[Chateau] Uncle Lars



  • edited November 2010
    Remember how, of the 70-80 people in the Chateau, 60+ are actual active members of Uncle's gang? The Chateau is an armed camp. If the Riders aren't present, it really is pretty deserted. Even the people who aren't part of the gang are mostly either still 'Riders' in the fiction (like Daff and Wisher) or they're service providers (like Mimi) who may as well just go visit their original homes when the Riders are all gone. He doesn't even have to get his food and etc from the Chateau ... the Chateau produces very little, so those supply lines can go straight to tribute-paying settlements.

    All that's just repeating things that have been said, really.

    Uncle rarely has had the need to send out his entire force to deal with some threat. But when it does happen, why shouldn't he just leave the Chateau behind? That's kind of the point. The Chateau's main business is raiding and tribute, and both of those demand action outside of the hold. I made that pretty explicit back in character creation, that I expected to play in a more mobile way than the usual hardholder. Like, I brought it up a as point for why a driver would probably be just fine in this game.

    As for the war with Dog Head, go back to the first post in this thread: that's Dog Head's establishing info. He definitely controlled more than just Mine. There was territory, and Uncle and Dog Head were struggling over it. It wasn't just Uncle trying to find and kill one settlement.

    Beyond that, well, it obviously didn't go smoothly. It's a war that lasted years (Violetta notes that she was just a kid when Uncle and Dog Head started fighting), that forced Uncle to adopt WWI-style war of attrition tactics, that nearly depleted supplies of ammunition on a regional scale, and that resulted in a great number of incidental casualties (off-hand example in the fiction: Spector's more recent orphans are noted as being generally cast-offs of war). Most people Uncle fights aren't like Dog Head, though.
  • Well, those things have been said, but I'm not sure they've actually been investigated or thought out.

    Uncle has a force of 60 men, first of all, which means that talking about war on that scale is entirely different from thinking about war by the more famous modern examples. It's more like fighting a small set of battles, which is firstly part of my problem in thinking about all this. If you're fighting with guns, it's easy enough to imagine a couple men being hurt or killed in any exchange of fire. So in only a few skirmishes, you'd be out of 60 men. So...a war that lasted years? Well it couldn't really have been a war in the sense of constant battle, right? Otherwise both of you would've run out of men and resources. So first of all, the rate of battle must not have been really all that akin to constant campaigning, and must have been closer to individuated skirmishes, simply because of the small numbers involved.

    Then, there's the problems with the Chateau. If the Chateau doesn't produce anything on its own, and inherently has supply lines always coming in from all the other smaller settlements, then why, when the Chateau was empty, wouldn't some of those smaller settlements just send some guys to go take the Chateau? I'm sure the Riders could take the Chateau back when they came back, but that would just drain their resources even more. I guess if every settlement were willingly giving tribute to the Chateau, and had no desire at all to take it or to exert dominance over Uncle and the Rough Riders, then maybe it makes more sense. But this situation seems unlikely, as the people in charge of the smaller settlements which apparently are the ones actually producing anything of value would easily take advantage of a sign of weakness from Uncle, such as leaving the Chateau unguarded. This is not to mention that the Chateau is a building with some useful installations in it, and that there are some permanent elements in the Chateau which cannot easily be picked up and moved, meaning that the place does have some value in and of itself, making it a desirable target for those smaller settlements. Maybe the smaller settlements aren't big at all, themselves, with 20 men each. You'll have to forgive me if you've said how big they were and I just didn't pick up on it at the time. But if so, then how are they the major producers for the Chateau? Are these essentially just big farms, not really settlements at all?

    You're right, it does sound like you had set up Dog Head to hold more territory than just Mine, but I'm curious as to what this actually means? How big of a zone of territory are you envisioning that the Chateau holds now and that Mine held in its prime? This is particularly important because again, I would've just described it as a bunch of settlements that paid fealty to some other settlements, as opposed to actually "holding territory". And I certainly wouldn't have envisioned it on the scale of more than a 50 mile radius, when the Rough Riders number at 60 men, total. Did they have more in their prime? Even at 150 men, it seems tough for me to envision a big expanse of territory under their control.

    To be honest here, I think I'm just having a difficult time meshing what I had been envisioning in my head with what the actual situation appears to be. I had heard what you said before, about the Chateau being an armed camp, but even so I had envisioned it being a significant and important armed camp, not just something easily abandoned. I feel like based on this description of your stuff, Uncle seems to be more of a Chopper with a really big gang than a Hardholder at all. Obviously, you set up that Uncle was, in the past, much more of a chopper, and I had envisioned that the transition had come when he actually did situate himself more permanently with an actual hardhold (The Chateau). So, I think I'm having difficulty understanding how things fit together between what I had seen in my head and what you had intended. Your opinion trumps mine in the end, of course, and to be frank, part of the reason why I raised none of this earlier is because it really didn't matter to Gritch. He's not a soldier, and his story was unlikely to really intersect with some of these elements. But, on the other hand, the Quarantine I'm envisioning will be much more likely to fit into that soldierly role directly, so for her sake I'm thinking it's important that I set my head straight on this stuff. Thanks for helping me here, and I'm sorry I'm being annoying about it.
  • Re: gasoline

    It's clear to me that gasoline is, by default, adequately plentiful in the apocalypse world. I guess maybe that's a stumbling block for you, but I'm pretty sure we're supposed to ignore scarcity for that unless otherwise discussed. The characteristic line is "the Golden Age Past did leave us two things: enough gasoline, enough bullets."

    It's come up: when asked about currencies and supplies (earlier in this thread) I drew from Christopher's suggestion that most people around here use animals for transport, and decided that Uncle buys gasoline (and accepts it as tribute) at generous exchange rates ... nobody else has any use for it, so everyone walks away happy that way.
    But this situation seems unlikely, as the people in charge of the smaller settlements which apparently are the ones actually producing anything of value would easily take advantage of a sign of weakness from Uncle, such as leaving the Chateau unguarded.
    You're really stretching there. One of these other settlements is going to try to occupy the Chateau while Uncle's away? I doubt it. Sure, let's say that they put together the equivalent of a standard hardhold gang (3-harm gang medium 1-armor). That's pretty generous, actually, since they're tribute paying holds because they can't defend themselves adequately, but whatever.

    If you rejigger the numbers to reflect an entire population moving into the Chateau, you have to assume that they couldn't properly equip that entire force, so it'd be more like a hocus' mob (2-harm gang large 0-armor). But, practically speaking, those numbers are identical.

    They pretty easily go and knock over the couple of guys Uncle left to take care of the place, so sure. Now they have the Chateau. Then Uncle comes home with the Riders (3-harm or 4-harm gang large 1-armor). The Riders are 2-harm now because they used up all their bullets on Dog Head, but that's a recent development ... previously, they were extremely well armed, probably to the point of having a superior armory.

    The invaders get +1armor because they're in the Chateau. They take 4-5 harm, reduced to 2-3 harm by armor. They deal 2 harm, reduced to 1 by the Rider's armor. On an average roll, Uncle inflicts terrible harm and suffers little harm, dealing 3-4 harm and taking none, steamrollering over the opposition. Or maybe he prioritizes and inflicts normal harm while taking definite hold of the Chateau. Either way, the poor bastards don't stand the slightest chance, and they have to know that before they try it - Uncle's forces aren't exactly kept secret.

    And it just doesn't make that much sense. They might not like to be paying Uncle tribute, but Uncle does actually hold up his end of the deal. It's a dangerous world, and allying with the Riders really does make you that much safer. The tribute might be the same whoever claims the territory, but we know that Uncle is serious about maintaining trust with his allies. Not every warlord will do the same, and without Uncle you can't do much about that next warlord who comes along.

    The Riders may be a pack of hyenas, but they live on their own over in the Chateau. And if they cross a line and fuck with the locals, they get shot. We've seen that onscreen.

    Now, Uncle's been fairly effectively keeping the peace around here for a couple of decades, so it'd be possible that some of the settlements might be forgetting that Uncle is better than the alternative - growing complacent, maybe. Except that Dog Head has just been terrorizing the region for at least a few years, so that possibility is back to being rather less likely.

    And during that war? You're going to stab in the back the guy who's standing between you and the vicious, ghost-dealing crazy man? Take the devil you know.

    In desperation, someone might try something crazy, but even then Uncle's perfectly capable of casually swatting them without taking any real loss. Y'know. When he gets around to it. And then, well, Uncle's better than the alternative, but he's not recklessly kind ... he's probably going to go back to these people's home and make an example of the place. How desperate do you have to be to invite that kind of thing? And what are you hoping to achieve?

    There's other points, but Michael's posting, so I'll get back to them.
  • Posted By: Michael LoyRe: gasoline

    It's clear to me that gasoline is, by default, adequately plentiful in the apocalypse world. I guess maybe that's a stumbling block for you, but I'm pretty sure we're supposed to ignore scarcity for that unless otherwise discussed. The characteristic line is "the Golden Age Past did leave us two things: enough gasoline, enough bullets."
    Exactly. Enough gasoline and enough bullets. Even the Rough Riders limited supply of bullets really just accounts for when his gang goes into battle and they don't do enough harm. There's still bullets around for personal use here and there. Just nothing on a large scale (until Uncle fixes that).

    As far as the Chateau's population, there's also plenty of transients in and around the market. So, while there may not be a stable population outside of the few who do live in this armed camp, there's also some people always coming and going (e.g. the family that asked for Marlene to take them downstream).
  • edited November 2010
    Okay, so, for the gasoline issue, there is literally absolutely no shortage of gasoline, period? This has me wondering where the hell it all came/is coming from. Just pumping gas stations until they're empty? Siphoning from vehicles? I understand the default setting, but I am curious as to where, exactly, it's coming from. People trade it to Uncle because they don't have much of a use for it, makes perfect sense. But two consequences of that description: (1) they have to be getting it from somewhere, and I'm curious where, and (2) if they don't have a use for it, to me, that implies that vehicles themselves are rare. Same thing with your comment about animals used for transportation. So, do the Rough Riders really have a full convoy of trucks? Are they the only trucks in the area? Tribute is then transported to the Chateau via cart and horse? Which takes how long? The duration of the tribute-trips seems particularly significant if the Chateau produces nothing. If a cart loses a wheel, and that cart has the food that the Chateau needs, then, um, that's really bad news and means people are going to be turning to Crutch more often.

    So, to cap off the gas thing, I really don't want to be annoying, so if we want to just say "There's enough" and leave it there, that's fine. But I am legitimately curious where all this gas would be coming from, particularly in order to supply Uncle for a multiple year campaign involving constantly moving convoys of trucks.

    As for people invading the Chateau, I don't think you're taking into account everything, either. For one, are the Riders related to people in the other settlements? Because if so, one would think that they might be slightly reluctant to just mow down any invaders from tribute paying settlements, so there'd be all kinds of problems entirely outside of exactly how much harm either side could deal or take. For two, really? Uncle would be willing to murder essentially an entire settlement just to retake the Chateau? I mean, I think that a sonuvabitch who's in charge of one of those tribute paying settlements might bank on Uncle being unwilling to go that far, even though he (the sonuvabitch) wouldn't tell his people (from the settlement) that he's effectively gambling with their lives, so they might still be stupid enough to follow him. And once Uncle murdered a settlement's worth of people, well, hell, all the settlements would either live in utter fear of him, which means that a rebellion is only a matter of time, or they would immediately rebel. For three, I'm not sure reducing it to purely rules terms makes sense, because these situations are fluid enough that they might be described within the rules in any number of ways, particularly if multiple settlements banded together to invade the chateau, the result being the equivalent of multiple large gangs.

    Furthermore, I wasn't just referring to the other settlements. While I still do believe that a power-hungry madman who's managed to get himself in charge of one might make a grab for the Chateau, regardless of sense (these people aren't necessarily the brightest), I was also referring to actual opponents. External settlements that pose a real threat. Dog Head's men, for instance. Mine wasn't a particularly good settlement. So why wouldn't he disperse at least some strong portion of his men, and send 'em right to the Chateau? Surely, even if Uncle hasn't made it particularly strong, the potential exists to fortify it. So they could take it, fortify it, and hold out pretty well. Especially because, unless all tribute from the other settlements is either spent immediately or is carted around with Uncle while he's on campaign, it's gotta be stored somewhere, and the likeliest location seems to be the Chateau.

    But in general, I think for one thing you've helped me figure out one of the places we weren't quite seeing eye to eye. I think I wasn't quite seeing Dog Head as so maniacally psychotic that he would really be utterly horrible to live under. I was instead seeing him as vaguely like a cult leader, where even if he was horrible to live under, you might not figure it out because you're so enamored with him. I can totally buy, then, that if he was really terrible to live under, or really a terrible alternative to Uncle, that the other settlements would much rather stick with Uncle than cause any problems. That makes sense, and it also makes sense that that loyalty has extended somewhat past the end of Dog Head, although it would seem to be eroding even further any time now. So I guess what I'm saying is that it makes sense that during Dog Head and for some time after, everyone was willing to stick with Uncle because he was so much better than the alternative, but now I would assume some of those opportunistic, idiotic, power-hungry jerks might be thinking of how to make a grab. Which I'm sure Uncle will deal with in characteristic style and speed.

    Also, for Michael Pfaff's post, this did occur as another reason why the Chateau might have an actual significance, and I was wondering if this bore out. Is the Chateau central to all the tributary settlements? So, it serves as the marketplace for all of them? Because that would give it a certain amount of permanent significance, such that either (a) it would continue to operate as a market even if the Riders weren't there, or (b) if it stopped operating when the Riders left, then the other settlements would really start hurting for lack of trade. Does this make sense?

    ETA: Although I am still interested in figuring out what you think about the war with 60 people thing, and the exact radius of influence that Uncle has over the area, because these issues in scale are really important to me being able to think on the same page as you.
  • edited November 2010
    How much does Pamming know about you as far as you being her father and all, Uncle?

  • edited November 2010
    Ask Spector, if you want to ask someone. I disclaim knowledge of this!

    Her mom was in a nearby town, but it's not like I kept visiting after Pamming was born. I did occasionally check and make sure the family was doing ok (there might have been a father in the family, I don't know), and I arranged the occasional luxury. I wasn't keeping it secret, exactly, but I wasn't getting involved in her life, either.

    She might have learned something then, though apparently she was only 6 when her parents died. Originally, I said it was to do the Dog Head, but I didn't realize then that this was a decade ago, so it would have had to be something else. The war with Dog Head definitely wasn't that long.

    And then she was with Spector. Spector's figured it out, because apparently Pamming takes after her dad, but I don't think he's said anything, from what we discussed back in the starting Hx thread. She might've figured it out on her own just by reading me/Spector, or I could be mistaken about Spector never hinting about it.
  • Spector, you wanna chime in?
  • edited November 2010
    We've never discussed it. She didn't have a father and when her mother died, a neighbor saw to it that she found me. I don't really know that Lars is her father, but I've noticed the resemblance and wondered. And he seems to care about her which kind of confirms things. If she knows, I think it's because she's smart and this world's version of a gifted geneticist.
  • Then she has her suspicions. :)
  • ahem. in chunks: occupation

    If some hold decides, abruptly, that they want to stab me in the back and take over the Chateau in time of war, yes, I'll wipe out their entire fucking settlement. (And again, it would have to be really a war for the Chateau to be actually empty.)

    I mean, not directly. We'll seize the Chateau back from them, drive the survivors off (and they would, it appears, take 'several' to 'many' fatalities, but that's their problem), and then we'll follow them home and strip them of everything they have that's useful to us - that's more what I was thinking in regard to making an example of them. But yes, that'll probably effectively wipe them out. I have people fighting out there to keep these people safe - literally, right then. That's the deal behind them paying tribute. If they're going to betray me, yeah, fuck them.

    And Uncle has been working with most of these settlements for a couple of decades. He knows their leaders and tradesmen by name, generally. He's watched out for them, provided them with a safe market, his men have families out there living among them. And I don't see that last as being a reason that they'd be more likely to betray the Riders, either.

    Sure, I allow that things could change - someone new could come to power in a hold, or whatever. But even then the Chateau is rarely left abandoned, and when it is that's because there's an immediate and pressing threat to the region. So I'm sorry, but I really don't think that ever happened. And if it somehow did (power-hungry madman, ok), they'd get smacked down fairly casually.

    The idea of some massive, multi-holding coalition popping up to depose Uncle under those circumstances is pretty far out there, though. We're talking about a whole crew of power-hungry madmen now? All coming to power at once?

    Someone else attacks? Who? Some roving gang? They're going to be just as easily dealt with. Unless they are, of course, yet another major warlord, on par with Uncle and Dog Head. It could have been a really bad situation all around if some other serious contender had shown up and turned it all into a 3-way war between him, Uncle, and Dog Head.

    But I don't see those guys wandering around much, I see them settled and controlling their own domains. That's reading right from the implied setting: if you want to play someone with that kind of a gang as a PC, you have to be a hardholder. If you want a wandering gang you have to be a chopper, and no gang of that scale is going to be any more than a passing thorn to the Riders. It's not unreasonable to figure that NPCs follow similar distributions.

    Uncle's long since disposed of any threats like that right on his borders ... that's his first decade in the region, right there, carving out some security for his people. So there isn't anyone right near by who'd see the war with Dog Head and get all opportunistic. There might be someone with a serious army, expanding and conquering territory on a large scale, but that kind of thing doesn't creep up on you.

    It is always possible that a long-shot problem will rear its ugly head, but clearly that didn't happen.
  • gas and stuff

    Yes, we have trucks. Not a whole hell of a lot of them, but enough to move the men and their supplies. They're big trucks, though (Michael's mentioned a 4-tonner, and I've been thinking deuce and a halfs), and I imagine the rides are cramped, so not many are needed. Possibly these vehicles are somewhat unusual. Obviously some other people have vehicles, though (Marlene, Imam, Baby Duck, God), so it must be somewhere in the middle of the dial, really. Maybe most people just don't know how to maintain motor vehicles.

    There isn't really any means of producing gas around here (unless there is), so presumably it's all just left over. That's not too unreasonable. Obviously the population has been substantially reduced, and it seems that most people don't drive, so I guess it's not that crazy to say that gas is still stretching after 50 years. We're on the east coat, more or less. Lots of gas stations around.

    And, ok, granted that that still requires a little suspension of disbelief, but it's a deliberate genre inclusion - that's why it's called out in the book.
  • timeline

    I don't know how long the war with Dog Head was. I haven't decided, and I never really intended to. It lasted 'years' and it ended 'months' ago, not 'years'. I'd suggested back in the Hx thread at the beginning, that Pamming's mother died in a raid by Dog Head that got past Uncle's lines, but that's obviously wrong ... it's since been noted that Pamming has been with Spector for about a decade.

    Violetta provides another benchmark. She says, actually: "I was just a pup when you and Dog Head were at each other's throats." But I dunno. I'm going to choose to read that as saying that she was still young, maybe in her teens, when we started fighting. Otherwise that seems to throw the war back further than is plausible.

    So she's in her early-mid twenties, something like 24. I could see that meaning that the war took three or four years, and that it ended somewhere between a year and two years ago ... somewhere around the 18 months mark, to pull a number out of my ass. She's an unreliable narrator, though.

    If you want concrete numbers, you tell me what sounds ok. Or ask Michael if he has something in his head.
  • sphere of influence

    Ok, this requires some logic.

    The sphere of influence can only extend so far that Uncle can get up in the morning, drive anywhere in the sphere, and still have time to set up camp and basic entrenchment for potentially his entire gang, plus hangers on like medics and mechanics. More often, he'll be going out with smaller numbers, but the worst case scenario is what we plan for.

    I suppose he could theoretically claim ground such that he'd have to spend multiple days in transit, but that seems pretty untenable.

    More than that, actually, he should probably be able to reasonably strike out a bit beyond those borders. He needs to be able to address the case of someone of similar strength setting up operation just outside of his bubble ... he's done this already, clearing out nearby competitors over the course of about a decade, way back when, but that doesn't preclude newcomers.

    I'm going to say that's six to eight hours of driving. If that doesn't sound right, say - I'm just grabbing a number. With that, he can leave home at daybreak, drive, perhaps get held up (if the way is blocked by rockfall, or a fallen tree, or a high river, or whatever) and generally still get there before dark. Presuming that everyone knows what their job is and does it, it should be possible to set up camp, lay out posts and barbed wire, send out the scouts, and so forth.

    Saying it like that, I'm going to go with 6 hours of driving. Sadly, the Riders are not all that well disciplined.

    So how fast are we driving? If there aren't many other vehicles, the holds probably aren't maintaining the roads. Also, this is hilly, uneven, heavily-forested ground, so we're not really going to be able to just up and cut through the trees with our deuce and a halfs. They're fine with rough terrain, but they can't drive over an oak.

    So we're driving on old roads, on stream beds, along the shoreline, and so forth. These are tough trucks, but they're still not driving at highways speeds here. I reckon we know the smoothest routes pretty well, since Uncle's been doing this for something like 25 years, and he'd been cruising around roughly this region for years before that. 20 mph, maybe, when things are going according to plan? 30 mph on good stretches? I'm no off-roader, so I'm guessing again.

    Not in a straight line, either. Still, 20-30 mph for 6 hours is 120 to 180 miles. So figure Uncle's sphere of influence stretches loosely 100 miles out. Practically speaking, the borders doubtless dip inwards a good bit in places, where the terrain doesn't permit good access. Where we can follow reliable roads or shorelines, it gets out there, maybe nudges past the 100 miles mark. If we're just headed straight into hills and cliffs, I don't know. Half that?

    Now, if we had boats it could be a good bit better, at least for locations along the water. But I don't think the Riders are very amphibious, at all. Marlene's kind of with us, but that's it: the dock is for tradesmen to boat on up to the Chateau for the market.

    I don't know how many holds are within that sphere. Six or seven places have been mentioned, aside the Chateau. There's probably more, but maybe not too many more.

    I guess I do picture some little places here and there, as well ... homesteads, little clusters of houses, and so forth, tucked away into the landscape. Not really part of any of the real holds. The main threat in this world is ghosts, and I assume that normal people have ways of avoiding their attention, generally. If that's so, in the presence of strong regional protection (ie Uncle, who's been around doing this for a couple decades) holding off roving gangs, it should be possible for brave folks to settle in smaller social units.

    That is, there isn't that much in the way of completely empty places. There might be places where there's only a handful of people, and those people won't be missed for a while, but even those are going to be periodically checked out by the Riders hunting expeditions (which roughly double as patrols).

    Our business isn't about holding that territory in any sense of actively patrolling borders and such. Rather, we listen to the locals, who generally warn us (either personally, or by going suddenly silent) of intruding threats. Then we move out and encamp in that area in what seems like reasonable numbers (usually not the entire gang, but sometimes), and we directly address the problem.

    It's rough land around here, so even in the case of large threats like Dog Head, it should generally be possible to seize choke points and generally restrict movement. That's imperfect, certainly. For instance, Dog Head undoubtedly got small gangs up through the hills and made strikes on holds behind our lines from time to time. I originally suggested as much when talking about Pamming's background ... even though that turned out wrong, things like that probably still happened.

    However, for most enemies we're fighting pretty aggressively, and we're pretty immediately cutting out the heart of the enemy. If it's a larger enemy, and some of their people had slipped past us, we can turn around and mop up the remains on our way home. That worked in the past, but it didn't work so hot with Dog Head.
  • Dog Head

    Sure, this isn't a war in the terms of modern warfare. It's more feudal in scale, really.

    Regardless, the war lasted 'years', and I imagine that, yes, someone was on the front all of that time. It wouldn't have been all of the Riders, all the time. When the pressure was off a bit, and Dog Head was busy regrouping, one platoon would've stayed in the field while the other returned home to rest, to repair gear, that kind of thing. When we were engaged in active fighting, both platoons would be in the field.

    I imagine that the entrenchments were laid out to be held by one platoon, and the other platoon would be involved in active maneuvering when on the front. When both platoons were on the front, I think Kirk was holding the fortifications while Fleece was maneuvering and attacking. When just one was on the front, they'd rotate in and out, to keep everyone sharp.

    Once Uncle's customary hard advance stalled out against Dog Head and he turned to entrenchment, he'd have fallen back to some chosen line, defined by the natural features of the land, where the Riders could dig in and prevent any large-scale movement by Dog Head's gathered forces. We'd periodically fight over that line, either trying to advance or trying to avoid being driven back by Dog Head's own advance.

    Any major advance by Dog Head that tried to get around those entrenched points would be slowed up by the terrain and probably spotted by our scouts, so that they'd be vulnerable to a strike. Something might've been attempted along those lines, perhaps more than once, and it'd have been bad if we hadn't caught him out. Evidence shows that that never happened, though. Seems James and Mo each ran pretty good scouting crews.

    Dog Head probably got out small squads sometimes, to strike into the heart of Uncle's territory, but I don't see them going for the Chateau. The inhabited holds would be much more valuable targets. In any case, every time he did that it would've been a bit of a risk. If he did it while the Riders were all on the front, he risks being shorthanded when Uncle makes a move. Remember, when we're only talking about six or seven squads to a 'large gang', a single squad counts for a good bit.

    But if he did it while one of the platoons was back at the Chateau, that platoon could send out a couple of squads to deal with it, quite possibly trapping and destroying Dog Head's unit.

    Probably it paid off for him sometimes, and it cost him, other times.

    Big engagements would generally be followed by periods of quiet, months maybe, as both sides tried to recover and replace casualties. That doesn't mean all the Riders abandoned the front and went home, though.

    Eventually, one of those big engagements turned the tide, where the combination of Marlene's amphibious transportation, Navarre's information on Dog Head's disposition, and probably other factors led to Uncle finally punching through to Dog Head (who may or may not have been at Mine). Then, finally, after at least a few years, Uncle was able to take the heart of the enemy, and the rest fell apart into small gangs, as he'd been expecting would happen right at the beginning. Some of those are still laying low, other have been picked off, others have just played it smart and moved on.
  • permanence

    The Chateau isn't important for its military value. Seriously. Name a reason why it would be. You keep saying you think everyone and there brother would want to seize it, but why? They want to particularly annoy Uncle? The place was literally sitting vacant when Uncle arrived in the region. He picked it because it was intact enough to use, and most other places were already inhabited. Also, it was close to Spector and maybe the nearby town, Narrows, was relatively friendly at the time.

    It has an orchard, and a vineyard. Someone enterprising could probably make something of that. It has a decent overlook of the lake, or bay, or fjord, or whatever it is. That's kind of useful if you're interested in sea power, maybe. Kind of depends on whether people actually need to sail past here when they're boating around, or if they just come up when they want to visit the Chateau particularly.

    There's a machine shop. An infirmary. Anything mobile is going to be going with the troops, though, and what's left isn't of special value or rarity. We don't really have any special stuff, except the trucks. Anything else we have was just bought locally, as far as I can think. Even our radios and stuff. Is ransacking the place really going to be worth it to you?

    It's central to Uncle's sphere of influence, but that's just because that's where Uncle decided to set up and plan his decade-long war to carve out a pocket of order in the region. Settling here came first, so that's where Uncle expanded from.

    While we're gone, there's probably a few Riders still behind, just to keep an eye on the place. Not a full squad, or anything. I don't know, if you can tell me a reason that I should really be worried about it, maybe there really is an extra squad in the Riders that just stays home and guards the walls, but I don't see the need.

    Possibly the market carries on operation when the Riders are gone. I see the market more as something that just naturally developed over the last twenty-odd years, where tribute delivers kept meeting up and incidentally exchanging goods, while they were at in a safe place. It's more than that now, but probably the market is less profitable if the Riders aren't in the house.

    It may make more sense to just wait until the Riders return. I don't think that would inconvenience most holds ... while they might miss some specific goods or services, most of them ought to be pretty self-sufficient. There's one or two exceptions, like Backwater, but maybe they probably also have some local (local to them) trade.

    And there's also the consideration that, again, if the Riders aren't there, it's because there's some significant, immediate threat of reasonable scale. It might not be a good idea to be traveling much while that is the case, in case some of the enemy gets past the Riders and runs amok among the holds for a bit. Your hold might be able to repel a small group like that. Your boat, or your wagon ... that probably doesn't have much of a deterrent. Perhaps you should stay home until the Riders have had a chance to clean up loose threads, or at least until one of the platoons has returned home to regroup.
  • I follow suit! occupation
    Hmmm. Okay, I guess I had envisioned that the kind of security you're saying Uncle has established in this region was a nigh impossibility in the current state of the world. Particularly because I would have imagined that other hardholders of commensurate strength to the 80 person/60-man-army of Uncle would actually not be terribly difficult for me to imagine. Maybe they'd be less well trained, but in sheer numbers, I didn't think it would be too impossible to say that 150 miles away, there's another hardhold with 80 people and 45 soldiers, at least. But what you're saying is that all of those are gone now, in any reasonable distance around Uncle's sphere of power. Alright then. Doesn't quite mesh with what I would imagine is the logic of this hard and terrible world, but it works.

    As for "smacking them down fairly casually", as you put it, I still think that's an underestimation, particularly for a 60 person military, where each person follows Uncle, but not with fanatical loyalty. I think a madman with a minimal force could theoretically take the Chateau, and if he promised better conditions for the guys with the guns, they might be lured away. That is, if they didn't know any better. I'm willing to believe that most of the Riders currently know better, what with having served with Uncle for a while, and with having seen the war with Dog Head. But, y'know, Fleece. If Fleece hadn't rebelled, and someone else had taken the Chateau when the Riders weren't around and then offered Fleece a position of power, why wouldn't he take it? So I guess what I'm saying in this regard is that the power of the Rough Riders would not seem to me to be as concrete and certain as you are presenting it, if only because they are fickle, violent, self-interested bastards.

    If a chopper gang did come around, I would emphasize again the point above, that they would not be dealt with as easily as you imply. If only because a 15 man chopper gang with guns would, yes, probably die to a man against Uncle. But you'd probably lose, I dunno, 5 men? 10 men? It would not be without its cost. So a few of them, and your military is down to 40. That's a third of your strength gone. I'm still not sure I understand how this problem is dealt with, and I definitely think it is a significant problem, particularly for the whole occupation picture. So again, a single gang might be a "passing thorn to the Riders," but how likely is it for there to be other gangs? Are you really saying that Uncle's control of the area is so complete that you're only likely to encounter, maybe, one of these gangs a year? I mean, hell, count how many men you've just lost in the past couple days.
  • gas and stuff
    Only thing I'd say here is that personally, I'm much more interested in the natural, forested landscape than urbanized landscape. So either I'd say that we need to actively start inserting gas stations and burned out cars into the descriptions of areas (to make it clear where the gas is coming from), or I feel like there should be some area relatively close by which serves the gas need pretty well. Of course, no one has really ventured outside of the Chateau much so far in the game, so this hasn't really cropped up, but it's something to think about. I actually wouldn't be against the idea of some large something or other, in Uncle's domain, from which he gets a lot of gas. I dunno, though. Your call.

    Although, if there were one settlement devoted to, I dunno, running some old-ass refinery and generating gas, and it needed food from other settlements, then that might solve some of the issues I describe below concerning the self-sufficiency of the settlements.
  • timeline
    War took three or four years, ended a year or two ago. I think that second part is good, I'm fine with that. The former, however, I'm still a bit questionable on, if only because the use of the word "war" is still jarring with me. Uncle was actively out on campaign for three or four years? I could believe that there was fighting between the Riders and Dog Head's men for three or four years, but I'm not sure I'd buy an out and out war for three or four years. Again, 60 men, limited resources, yadda yadda.
  • sphere of influence
    Okay, so, Uncle would set out at daybreak and aim to get there by nightfall to set up camp? Doesn't that mean that any kind of intelligent enemy would just wait for him to get there, his men all tired, his resources somewhat depleted, without a camp having been set up, and then, um, pounce? I can't imagine that the Riders can manage that much of a surprise what with being violent, loud fellas, along with a convoy of big-ass trucks. This isn't that big of a deal, though.

    Saying that there really aren't any empty spaces, though, and that all these little homesteads are generally going to be checked by Uncle's patrols...that seems somewhat unlikely. For one, I'd imagine people would naturally want to congregate, instead of being totally separated off on their own. Uncle's men will get there eventually, but if you're all on your own and you're the first stop for a roving gang, well, you're screwed. And also, how many people are we envisioning, here, that they're all living spread out on little settlements? And why would they live in little settlements? Safety from the other people in Uncle's sphere? What advantages do they gain by living so spread out? Unless you want to say that it really is down to the ghosts for why people live separately. Maybe bigger settlements attract ghosts.

    For two, 100 mile radius? 60 men? I'm really focusing on this 60 men thing. How are you dividing up 60 men to check upwards of 30000 square miles on a regular basis, such that they're going to eventually hit every little homestead in those 30000 square miles? I could maybe imagine it if you said that by year's end, every homestead has been checked once, but that still means people could die and the Riders would only know 8 months later.

    I get the idea that the Riders mostly listen to the locals, and depend on the locals to alert them to dangers so they can deal with it. That makes sense. But depending upon how many locals you're envisioning, I still say...30000 square miles. 60 men. Seems like, unless bad stuff happens pretty infrequently, then that area could quickly get swamped by nastiness. Not in a sense of any one thing being huge and dangerous, but in the sense of lots of little things. A gang here, a gang there, a plague to boot, some possessed creatures massacring farmers, and voila, that's four problems spread out across those 30000 square miles. Deal with 'em one at a time, sure, but then, by the time you get to the last couple of 'em, what's left to save?
  • Dog Head
    Pardon me for not remembering properly, but I want to be sure. When you say "platoon", how many men are you talking? 30? You mention "both platoons," so that makes me think 30.

    How big of a front are you thinking there was? For 30 men? A front that's, what, 200 yards long?

    Basically, I think my issue here is that you're using language suited to a large-scale actual war. But that's not what this was; can't have been. Even if we assume you had double the men you have now, which I'm not sure we're assuming, that's still 120 men. Dog Head probably had approximately the same number, maybe a bit more, because his guys were almost certainly less well trained and disciplined, so they probably had to make up for it with numbers. Big engagements? That's probably a shootout that might last a couple days, maximum. The front, like I said above? There might be a big area equidistant between Mine and the Chateau, but that'd be a big area, and since so few men would be spread out across such a big area, it's hard for me to conceive of it in the sense of a "front".

    I guess this is actually all endemic to referring to it as a war. It might be a war to them that fought it, but from my perspective, it's much more akin to a big gang fight. Which is why I'd imagine every force is called a gang. So really, it's not a matter of armies and fronts and whatnot, it's a matter of...gangs. And that makes certain tactics unviable, including extending your reach too far, or fighting a war of attrition, I would think. You don't have the men to lose in a war of attrition.

    I'm fine with the general description of the way things went, but I think that what I'm sensing from the way you're describing it are these big troop movements and battles, and what it must actually have been were a bunch of measly little engagements by today's standards. Especially if troops were divided into 30 man platoons.
  • permanence
    Well, you actually said it was important for its geographic value, its higher ground, which would inherently give it some military value. So there's that.

    But then there's still the fact, which you didn't discuss, of the tribute. Uncle takes it with him when he goes on campaign? Or it all gets spent immediately, so there's no need to store it? Both seem moderately unfeasible, depending upon how much tribute you're envisioning. So I guess that would be a good way to solve this issue, determine how much tribute Uncle actually gets, in what form. If there isn't physically that much stuff, then maybe it is easy to cart around. But if there's a lot of food, water, and necessities, then I would think it would take up valuable space and resources to cart it around. So some of it would be stored at the Chateau, I would imagine.

    Then, it's an actual building. Which I'd assume are relatively rare in this area. It's a building which seems to be made of moderately tough stone, and it can be fortified. That alone would seem to give it tremendous strategic value, particularly when Dog Head had a hardhold made of corrugated iron and mud, alone, it seems. He probably would've liked to have a building like the Chateau.

    Overlooking the lake does seem pretty useful, too, considering it's one of the biggest things we set up when we started this game. Naval power is not insignificant, as many settlements are reachable by water, we established. So that's totally another reason, too. I'd assume sea travel is much faster than land travel, thanks to not having to deal with those hills and winding roads you mentioned. So in that regard, naval power is inherently valuable.

    Machine shop parts are going with the troops? What exactly is mobile in the machine shop that it's being loaded up with the troops in those trucks? The medical supplies in the infirmary, sure, those'll get taken. But I'm assuming that little things, like the freezer, you can't pick up and carry. And a freezer alone could be put to good use, I would think, by storing and keeping food cool. So that would be rather valuable. And the stuff that was bought locally...so what? Doesn't mean it's not valuable. Hell, you bought it, right?

    I guess the other thing that I would say is image. I would actually argue that this might be significant to understanding how the area deals with Uncle. If the Chateau is seen by the locals as Uncle's place, his headquarters, the market, the place where you send tribute, the place where you send a runner when there's some bad shit going on nearby...then what message does it send if he doesn't care about holding it? In turn, if Uncle isn't seen to have a headquarters, then that too would seem to construe Uncle in the minds of the locals as inherently of the same kind as the roving gangs, which wouldn't seem desirable either. He might be better than them, but that's a matter of quality, not kind. In the end, he'd still be just another gang leader, if the Chateau weren't an HQ. That's how I see it, at least.

    But if, on the other hand, the Chateau were Uncle's, the place that would not be taken, that was safe...that sends an entirely different message. One which would be much more appealing, I'd think, and much more likely to get the people to truly accept Uncle as a better option than anybody else.

    There's another thing that arises here, which has been sort of niggling away at me, although I don't think I quite was able to phrase it correctly until now. The Chateau, and the Riders, are entirely dependent upon the other settlements for survival. Really, they are. The Chateau produces nothing, and the Riders produce nothing, except violence. The other settlements are self-sufficient, as you say. So they only need the Riders for protection from physical violence. Which to me implies that physical violence is a real, constant threat. Otherwise, I might envision the settlements eventually saying "Nah, we'll take our chances." Obviously, we just got off the war with Dog Head, so maybe they're in the mode of saying "Okay, we need protection," but I could see that changing quick if physical violence is not a constant threat. And if physical violence is a constant threat, then again, how do 60 men deal with it when they have to truck out 4 hours or more to get there, and then another problem crops up on the other side of the territory? So, on the one hand, with the threat of constant violence, it still seems the Riders're stretched thin. On the other hand, without the threat of constant violence, why do the settlements keep paying tribute? Loyalty to Uncle? Really? I didn't think Apocalypse World was that idealistic. Worry that it just might happen? Maybe, especially after the fight against Dog Head, but that only goes so far. I guess if each settlement is giving so little that they don't even notice it, then it may make sense, but that doesn't really seem to fit, either. Each of these settlements, 4 or 5 of them, are self-sufficient? They produce enough food that they can all survive without tremendous difficulty? So they don't notice when they have to consistently send food away as tribute?
  • Posted By: Michael Loygas and stuff

    Yes, we have trucks. Not a whole hell of a lot of them, but enough to move the men and their supplies. They're big trucks, though (Michael's mentioned a 4-tonner, and I've been thinking deuce and a halfs), and I imagine the rides are cramped, so not many are needed.
    You have both a couple 2.5s and a 5-ton, only the 5-ton isn't running currently. That's what Daff and Wisher are working on.
  • A lot of stuff to read here. I'll get back to it.
  • I know it's supposed to be part of the game that petroleum is abundant, but it's also not rocket science to make bio-diesel or ethanol -- particularly in the limited quantities that we're talking about. 100 miles is what, fifteen gallons of diesel?
  • edited November 2010
    Our scale is smaller than in modernity, but we can still have wars. People have fought small 'wars' for millennia.

    By the numbers, Uncle and the Riders can deal with any typical medium or smaller gang, generally without taking casualties. Since we're not playing those events out, I'm going by average result.

    The machine shop doesn't have anything anyone else in the region can't easily obtain. You have no reason to assume we have special shit.

    Refrigeration? People are going to risk life and livelihood for a refrigerator? Digging a root cellar is easier.

    The mansion was standing empty when Uncle arrived, as established very early on. Ruins must be fairly common.

    Tribute is food and such, necessities, and we only generally demand enough to supply us from week to week. That's why everyone in the Chateau is starving right now, in game. And yeah, that goes with the men as much as is needed. They need food, medical supplies, all the other stuff.

    Uncle clearly has a headquarters at the Chateau. Only rarely do the Riders leave it, entirely. And when they do, I find it really unlikely that everyone around is suddenly going to start thinking Uncle is kind of shifty because his men are coming out in force to protect them.

    As said before: "Actual patrols don't happen often (just when and where Uncle thinks there might be trouble), but hunters do occasionally 'patrol' to stock the larders, and Uncle supports this behavior. It gets meat on the table and eyes in the field."

    However, if any threat larger than a few thugs starts working in the area in any substantial way, people are going to notice, and probably quite quickly. If all that happens is that that one little homestead that nobody notices goes silent, then it can't have been that big a threat, in the grand scheme of things.

    Why do people live outside the holds? Well, why did they live outside the major settlements at any time in the history of man?

    Ok. I'm not too interested in this conversation. I have no problem with 'ask provocative questions', but this is far beyond having any immediate relevance in the game. If any of this becomes immediately important, feel free to bring it up. And, of course, whoever wants to discuss it is still free to do so; I'm just not seeing the value.
  • I think it's been fleshed out very well. :)
  • The stuff owned by the PCs is probably more valuable (more likely targets) than The Chateau itself. My lab, Navarre's guns, Marlene's assault hovercraft, Gritch's glove, etc.
  • Posted By: Christopher WeeksThestuffowned by the PCs is probably more valuable (more likely targets) than The Chateau itself. My lab, Navarre's guns, Marlene's assault hovercraft, Gritch's glove, etc.
    That's a good point.

    The people too. They make great slaves.
  • Yeah, people have fought small "wars" for millennia. But did they really last years when the involved groups numbered at about 150 people, tops?

    About the casualty thing, I haven't looked into the gang mechanics, so I'll take your word on it. But to be honest, that makes zero sense to me. I have no problem believing that Uncle's gang can easily squish smaller gangs, no problem. But without any casualties at all? Not sure I believe that. Plus, Uncle's gang is often split up into smaller gangs, isn't it? 30 man gangs? That changes things, right?

    As for the machine shop, well, I actually was inherently assuming the basic crap that the Chateau would have was special, in and of itself. Put another way, I was assuming that machine shops were not "the norm," and that not every settlement would have one. I was assuming that this kind of equipment wasn't easily obtainable in the region. This is based again off my assumption of basic scarcities and the absences of those things which we take for granted in the modern world. If the Chateau had a machine shop, this would again make it more valuable if the other settlements did not, which I think is part of the reason why I thought the Chateau had that value. But even if that stuff was easily obtainable, the fact remains that it's gotta be costly, and can't be that inexpensive. I mean, again, what devices are in the machine shop, that they're so cheap? Can you really call it a machine shop without heavy equipment?

    Refrigeration, among many other benefits which I detailed. And digging a root cellar is likely less effective.

    This, too, is something that I inherently came at from a different angle. I assumed it was empty when Uncle got there because there aren't many people in the area, not because there are so many ruins this was just the one that got left alone. I thought nobody found it, or people were too afraid to leave the tiny areas they had settled in, so it was more a matter of scarcity of people than preponderance of ruins. Personally, I would very much push for the former, because a preponderance of ruins feels like it messes up (had to catch myself from writing "ruins" again) the forested, rustic charm of the area. I much prefer few people to lots of broken down buildings.

    As for the tribute thing, that doesn't entirely make sense, because Uncle consistently gets extra barter to spend that isn't immediately spent feeding his men. So either he's getting more than is necessary to feed his men, or his men are starving because he's keeping some to himself.

    And the thing about the Riders coming out in force to protect them...well, that's not entirely true, is it? You're going out in force to protect one part of Uncle's sphere. But like you said, it's a sphere. That means there's an entire half of the sphere which is now much less protected than it was before, because all of Uncle's men are on the other side of the territory, fighting some other threat. If physical threats do attack from all sides at all times, then this would not be a little thing. It's entirely within human nature to say "Why the hell is he fighting over there, instead of protecting us here?", even if it is wholly irrational. I mean, I don't think people are as rational as you seem to be assuming they are, particularly not ignorant savages who grew up in the ashes of civilization.

    As for people living outside the holds, the vast majority of people generally don't live outside the holds. So if there are few people here, then the vast majority should live within the holds, and there really shouldn't be that many people living outside of the holds.

    And as for immediate relevance to the game, well, it still has immediate relevance because we still haven't said exactly how far away Mine is. I think my entire point in going after all this is that you seem to be envisioning a much larger scale than I am. I really have a hard time pushing myself to believe that Uncle's domain really extends out over a 30000 square mile area in any definite sense, when he has only 60 men. Which is why I have a hard time believing that Mine is that far away. I would have a much easier time believing that things were more condensed, that Mine is maybe 50 miles away, for an area of about 7850 square miles, and even that seems like it's stretched thin with 60 people. The distance which Mine was from the Chateau was of direct immediate significance within the game, so I think this still needs to be settled. If you want to say it's 100 miles, then fine, but I still find that hard to believe.
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