The Military system is used to resolve battles. Most of the time, the Military system is about posturing and preparation. When a battle does break out, however, the impact can be massive.
The Military system is characterized by a high degree of volatility. War is dangerous and uncertain, and the Military system accordingly incorporates a large amount of risk. The Military system also places a great deal of power in the hands of each faction’s delegates, similarly to how an executive official might be vested with commander-in-chief authority to allow for rapid decisions in times of crisis.
Here are the basic mechanics of the Military system. If you understand these basics, you understand the system significantly better than Summoners generally need to in order to participate.
- The Military statistic. Factions come into the arc with a Military stat. This number represents how much power it brings into the arc. It operates on an essentially linear scale: a faction with Military 20 is twice as good at warfare as a Military 10 faction.
- Force Strength. This number keeps track of a faction’s current available strength during the arc. It starts at each faction’s Military stat, and can increase or decrease through events like battles or hiring mercenaries. The underlying Military stat itself does not change when the faction (e.g.) takes casualties. A faction that’s been put through the wringer might have a Force Strength that is much lower than its Military stat.
- Note. We do not track detailed deployment patterns, i.e., who has how many troops in what place, or how long it will take troops to go from one area to another. This would drastically multiply the complexity of the system, and with it the frequency of rules disputes and general headaches. Logistical flexibility and infrastructure are rolled into the Strength stat.
- Note. In fact, we always assume that a faction can fight with its current Strength. There is no way to, e.g., “attack their base while they’re off fighting the undead in the north.” Why? Mostly because such a possibility would exponentially increase the complexity of the rules, and thus the potential for a “rules failure” requiring an arbitrary fix. If the “realism” bothers you, either remember that this is League of Legends, or note that Military represents not a literal troop count but a nation’s overall fighting prowess, which includes factors like logistics and deployment.
- Advantage. We simplify strength modifiers (e.g. for fortifications or victories in battle matches) into points of Advantage. For each point of Advantage an army has, it deals +10% damage and reduces incoming casualties by 5%. A faction may benefit from a maximum of 5 points of Advantage at any time.
- Readiness. An army’s readiness for combat varies based on morale, logistics, and other factors. Every Thursday, we secretly roll a d6 for each faction, increasing or decreasing its Advantage by up to 3 points. This Readiness stat is disclosed only to the faction’s delegates. (We also roll a “false Readiness” value for each faction; see below.)
- Military Intelligence. Every Thursday, just after Readiness values are rolled, each faction gets a free Espionage test against each other faction. On a success, the faction learns the target’s Readiness value; on a failure, it gets the “false Readiness” value instead. Again, these results are shared only with each faction’s delegates.
- NOTE: I’m strongly considering removing this Readiness mechanic. Thoughts?
- Battles. Battles take place when two factions fight over territory or another objective. They follow these basics steps.
- Declaration. A faction’s lead delegate may order an attack at any time, provided they have the support of one other delegate, by contacting staff. (Any Summoner can independently call for an attack by gathering the support of 10 other Summoners, which then places the proposal on a biweekly poll.) Once staff are contacted, they will begin a 24-hour poll of the aggressor faction’s Summoners seeking ratification.
- Reaction. The faction being attacked can choose to stand its ground or fall back. Third-party factions can join on either side, or stay out of it.
- Matches. We will hold a special set of matches that will guide the outcome of the battle.
- Resolution. A battle takes place over one or more rounds. Each round, the two factions deal damage to one another, until one army retreats or is destroyed. The winner secures the objective, e.g. by seizing control of the territory the two factions are fighting over.
- Objectives. Battles are usually fought over strategic objectives. These create the functional map of a theater of war during an arc.
- Base camp. Each faction starts with a base camp, which serves as their headquarters for the arc.
- Factions receive 5 points of Advantage when defending their base camp.
- Destroying a faction’s base camp applies a -50% penalty to reinforcement for the rest of that arc. It also permanently reduces their Military stat by 20%.
- Key sites. A key site provides a bonus to a faction’s stats. It might be a temple, a city, or a natural feature.
- Factions begin arcs in possession of two key sites each.
- Factions receive 2 points of Advantage when defending a key site.
- While a faction holds a key site, it gains a temporary +5 stat bonus for the arc. At the end of the arc, this converts into a permanent +1 stat gain.
- These sites are highly charged with magic. For every 10 points of base Strength in the battle at the start, add one six-sided die to a hazard pool. Just before each round (including the first round) begins, there is a 10% chance that disaster will strike (increased by 5% for every 10 points of base Strength). If and when it does, both sides must make an Insight check against Difficulty 20 (+3 for each 10 points of base Strength). If either faction fails, roll the hazard pool dice to determine the number of casualties. The casualties are divided proportionally to the size of the armies whose Summoners failed to hold back the wild magic surge. This can only happen once per battle. If it does happen, the aggressor side suffers -3 to Politics for the rest of the arc.
- Territory. Factions can also choose to attack another faction’s general territory within the theater of the arc. The stakes vary by the type of territory being attacked. In each case, the attacker (if victorious) reduces the target’s stat by 20% for the duration of the arc, and takes half that amount as a buff for the rest of the arc.
- Options. All five stats other than Military itself are targetable. (Yes, explaining raids on the Politics stat is difficult, but it’s an option for balance reasons. It might involve taking control of something sufficiently important to the League or an inactive faction that the possessing faction gains extra favor with them by using it as leverage.)
- Base camp. Each faction starts with a base camp, which serves as their headquarters for the arc.
- Connections to other World Systems.
- Production. Production represents industrial capacity and population, and is used to replace casualties. Over the course of 10 weeks, a faction can recover Strength equal to about half of its Production stat.
- Insight. Arcane and technological breakthroughs can give a faction up to one point of Advantage against a particular foe.
- Commerce. Factions can hire mercenaries to bolster their ranks.
- Politics. The League does not have the authority or mandate to ensure world peace. However, it does referee armed conflicts, and factions may (e.g.) secure temporary truces or place certain sites off limits through politicking.
- Espionage. Espionage is used to gauge enemies’ Readiness level. Factions can also use sabotage to weaken an enemy.
That may seem somewhat complex. Don’t worry: there’s no need for every individual Summoner to understand the nuances of the system. The basic version is that the higher a faction’s Military stat, the better it is at brawling.
Politics and Laws
The League of Legends was founded to save Valoran from total destruction through war. Although the League will intervene to prevent conflicts from escalating to catastrophic levels, often this takes the form of containing and restricting the fighting rather than completely halting it—the League will cordon off certain areas, hold tournaments to award key strategic locations to one side or the other, and rule on allies’ petitions to enter the fray. The fiercest fighting often occurs early in the conflict, before the League can respond, as each side throws all their might into making their position appear as formidable as possible by the time the initial truce is ordered.
In theory, a direct attack by one League member-state upon another would trigger the ultimate sanction: a reflexive declaration of war by all other member-states against the aggressor. This has never actually happened. Invariably, the aggressor is able to make some kind of case for the lawfulness of their attack, which then triggers a League dispute.
In short, despite the League’s presence, the armies of Valoran are not just for show. To keep things exciting and genuinely unpredictable, as well as to generate some flavorful detail, we have put together a system for describing these fighting forces and resolving clashes between them. The following is mostly just geeky detail for people who like a little bit of tabletop mixed in with their Factions. There’s no need to learn how it works behind the scenes unless you enjoy doing so.
Summoners have the following major decisions to make regarding Military:
- Mercenaries. Factions can spend some of their gold on hiring mercenaries to temporarily bolster their forces. This is part of the weekly Commerce action.
- Attack. A faction’s lead delegate can call for an attack at any time, with the support of at least one other delegate. It must then be approved by the faction’s Summoners in a 24-hour poll. If the two factions are not currently at war, this requires a two-thirds supermajority.
- Response. Once a faction’s attack is announced, both sides have 48 hours to negotiate with third-party factions and entice them to join in on their side. At the end of the 48 hours, each third-party faction’s delegate may submit one such proposal, e.g., “We’ll help Noxus if they give us a third of the loot.” (Staff may insist that delegates streamline overly complex proposals.) If such a deal is put forward, the Summoners from the involved factions have 48 hours to vote on it. (If the proposal would lead to the faction fighting a faction it is not already at war with, this requires a two-thirds supermajority.) Once these interventions are resolved, the defending faction’s delegate has 24 hours to decide whether to stand their ground or run.
- Note on multiple attacks. Only one attack can be “pending” at a time. Once an attack declaration is received, it must be resolved before other attacks can be processed.
There are a few decision points within battles, as well, but these are mostly in the hands of a faction’s appointed delegates, since the timeframe is too compressed to allow for proper voting.
In battles, factions inflict casualties on one another, which reduces their Strength semi-permanently. Factions can reinforce their armies with Production, at a rate of about 5% of their Production stat per week. In other words, over the course of 10 weeks (about the length of a normal arc), a faction can replenish an amount of Strength equal to half of its Production.
Reinforcement only occurs during arcs. (This is mostly just to give staff a break during Intermission.) Factions not involved in an arc recover at half speed.
We no longer track individual units, as Naggarok and I have already had our fill of creating spreadsheets and rolling dice for zombie dogs and crystal crabs. However, we would like to keep some of that flavor in the new, streamlined system.
For each full 10 points of Strength a faction has, it receives one elite unit. These units add d6 points of Strength to battles, rolled each round. Units are gained or lost as Strength changes, with the most recently added units being the first to be lost as casualties, and the last to be regained through reinforcements.
[Optional add-on rule, if we have time to develop it and people like it: there are different types of elite units, and factions can select which one they want. On a roll of 6, the elite unit does something special, depending on its type.]
Factions can use Commerce to hire mercenaries on a temporary basis. A faction’s command structure can only support a maximum of half of its Military stat in mercenaries at any given time, and mercenaries require weekly upkeep.
Battles occur over the course of one or more rounds. If the battle is between two factions, we will schedule battle matches that will impact the outcome. While the faction with the greatest Strength is likely to win, warfare is dangerous and unpredictable; there is usually at least some chance that the weaker side will come out on top.
A faction’s lead delegate may declare an attack at any time, by contacting staff. Factions’ Strength values for the purposes of this battle are “frozen” as soon as the attack is declared. (For example, if an attack is declared on Wednesday, and the resolution is still taking place when that Friday comes, and a faction involved in the battle hires mercenaries, they are not available when the battle is resolved.) Two battle matches will be scheduled for the next Sunday that is at least five days from the declaration, with the first match to start at 5 p.m. Pacific.
The lead delegate must have the support of at least one other delegate. Once the declaration is received, staff will conduct a 24-hour poll of the faction’s Summoners to confirm or reject the declaration.
Once a faction’s attack is announced by staff, both sides have 48 hours to negotiate with third-party factions and entice them to join in on their side. At the end of the 48 hours, each third-party faction’s delegate may submit one such proposal, e.g., “We’ll help Noxus if they give us a third of the loot.” (Staff may insist that delegates streamline overly complex proposals.) If such a deal is put forward, the Summoners from the involved factions have 48 hours to vote on it. (If the proposal would lead to the faction fighting a faction it is not already at war with, this requires a two-thirds supermajority.) Once these interventions are resolved, the defending faction’s delegate has 24 hours to decide whether to stand their ground or run.
For story purposes, the battle actually takes place when the defending faction’s delegate makes their decision.
New declarations are “on hold” until the battle is resolved. The League will then step in and enforce a two-week truce while the dust settles. Each faction may “stack” an attack declaration during this time, but they will not be processed until after the truce. (Factions can freely change their submitted declarations, which are kept secret, up until the truce ends.) If more than one declaration is in the stack when the truce lifts, we will process the declaration of the faction with the highest Military stat (not Strength) first, with a declaration time of the moment the truce lifted.
These are the instructions for preparing for a battle.
- Determine Strength. Note each faction’s Strength. Roll a d6 for each elite unit involved in the battle, and adjust Strength accordingly.
- Assign Generals. Each faction puts forward a Summoner to act as its general for the battle; by default, this is its lead delegate.
- Battle Matches. If this is a battle between two factions, we’ll hold a set of two battle matches. For each match won, the faction gains one point of Advantage.
- If a faction is assisted by allies, the allies can contribute Summoners to the matches. These Summoners are limited to summoning their own factions’ Champions. To determine how many allied Summoners can participate, divide the ally’s contributed forces by the main faction’s. For each full 20%, the ally sends one Summoner. A maximum of two allied Summoners may participate. The delegate may decide how to allocate those spots among factions if there is overflow.
These are the instructions for running each round of a battle.
- Roll Damage. Both sides roll 2d6-5 and add Advantage to compute Damage. For each point of Damage, inflict 10% of the faction’s Strength in casualties against the other side.
- Example: Pinguland has Strength 10. It rolls 2d6-5 and gets 4. It has 2 points of Advantage, bringing that to 6 in total. 60% of its Strength of 10 is 6. It inflicts 6 points of casualties on the other side.
- Apply Casualties.
- Reduce incoming casualties by 5% per point of Advantage.
- Divide casualties proportionally among regular troops, militia, and mercenaries. (Proportionally to their overall presence in the army.) If a troop type is “overkilled”, set the remainder aside, and run a second round of casualties after the first is complete.
- Mercenaries take double casualties, representing their relative lack of commitment and greater willingness to turn and run. Mechanics-wise, mercenaries soak damage at half effectiveness: if mercenaries take 2 points of Damage, 4 points of mercenaries are lost.
- Example: Rengarville is facing off against Pinguland. Pinguland rolled 6 points of casualties. Rengarville has 4 points of Advantage, reducing damage by 20%, to 4.8 (rounds to 5). Rengarville loses 5 points of Strength.
- Determine Victor. After casualties have been lost, compare the Strength of each side. The victor is the side with more Strength.
- The victor gains one point of Advantage. If the two sides are fighting over an objective, such as a key location, the victorious side seizes control of it.
- Decisions. Each side then secretly makes a decision about what to do next.
- Winning side options:
- Hold position. Secure the objective. If the other side keeps fighting, you’ll go into the next round with an extra point of Advantage, in addition to the point gained from the victory.
- Pursue. Run the defeated army down. (This is in part a bet that the other side will run; it will backfire somewhat if they stand and fight.) The winning faction may “burn” (lose) any number of points of Advantage. If the enemy retreats, for each point “burned”, inflict 10% of your Strength in extra casualties before the next round starts. If the enemy doesn’t retreat, the Advantage is still burned, but each point only inflicts 5% of Strength in extra casualties.
- Retreat. The winner can, if it really wants to, retreat. If the loser chose to stand and fight, the loser becomes the winner of the battle overall; if the loser also retreats, the battle is a draw, and the ownership of the objective is the same as it was before the battle.
- Losing side options:
- Stand and fight. Continue fighting.
- Retreat. Cut your losses and run, ending the battle.
- Winning side options:
- Next Round. If either side runs, the battle is over. If they both keep fighting, start another round from the top.
Most casualties are not literally killed; losses from battles mostly represent injured troops, or broken units that have scattered in retreat, or lost equipment, or what-have-you. After a battle, the victorious faction regains 50% of its lost casualties. The defeated faction regains 30% of its lost casualties.