A Medieval Campaign System for DBA

A alternative generic DBA campaign system, for 4-8 players.

Note: These rules are still under construction. If you play with them, you are technically playtesting them. (Thanx! :) Titles with no rules under them indicate a section still awaiting my attention. Feel free to email me any problems you find such as bad mechanics, missing rules, syntactical problems with the wording of the rules, etc.


This is an alternative system for running a DBA mini-campaign, in a Medieval European setting.

Each player represents a faction of powerful and influential groups (noble families, local bourgeois, clergy, etc.) held together by legal, economic, political and familial bonds. The player's job is to advance the power and prestige of his own faction. Ruling nations and controlling land are secondary (though important) aspects of this power. Prestige is gained in battle (of course), but also in taking power away from other factions.

One of the objects of this system is to get everybody in on each battle, so nobody sits out while DBA is being played. There can theoretically be any number of players, but the practical limit is 8. Any more and the battlefields will be too factious.

The Map

The map is divided into fiefs. Each fief corresponds to some small political subdivision of territory, such as a group of minor nobles' demesnes, a city and its environs, an important noble's holdings, etc.

Each fief must have a fortress strength, a number representing the ability of a fief to resist a siege. See Sieges below for details.

The fiefs must be grouped into regions, each representing a territory with somewhat homogeneous terrain, politics, population, etc. Regions are the minimum political unit recognized by nations.

Fiefs can either be drawn as territories on a map, or as nodes with interconnecting routes like in the standard DBA campaign. In either case, the route between two fiefs should be classed as either normal, sea, or rough. The type of route affects campaign movement. Long sea routes can be split into territories, or have intermediate sea nodes.

Some number of these fiefs must be capitals. Capitals do not count as part of any region, even if nested entirely within a region. At the beginning of the game, each capital is the seat of a nation, which includes some number of whole regions.

Players hold fiefs all over the map, regardless of regional and national borders.


Markers. Each player should have a number of markers:

Initial control. Before the game begins, the fiefs must be divided up. This can be done through scenario rules or at the whim of a referee, or by the method below:

  1. Organize the players in a circle around the map, and determine (via die roll or some other random method) who will go first.
  2. Starting with the first player, go around the table clockwise, each player putting down one control marker in an uncontrolled fief, until all fiefs are controlled.
  3. Starting with the first player again, go around the table clockwise, each player putting down one claim marker, until all fiefs have claim markers.

No player may put a control or claim marker into a fief in a region where he already has one, unless he has no other choices.

No player may have one kind of marker (control or claim) in all the fiefs of a single region. A player must skip his turn if his only move would violate this rule.

The player who controls each capital also controls the ruler for that nation. No player may control more than one capital at the beginning of the game. A player may have claims on more than one capital, however.

After all the fiefs have control and claim markers in them, each player must make one of his fiefs into his home fief.

Year Procedure

The game is played in rounds, each representing the passage of one year. Each player gets to take one action per year. Medieval politics were slow...

Players dice off see who goes first, then go clockwise around the table from there.

Each player may do any one of the following:

  1. Pass (don't do anything).
  2. Declare a new home fief.
  3. Make a claim on one fief controlled by another player.
  4. Exercise a claim on any fief in which he has a claim marker, except a capital or home fief.
  5. Declare war or rebellion, and lead a campaign.

If a war or rebellion was declared this year, or is continuing from a previous year, a campaign starts after the last player has taken his action.


To make a claim, a player puts one of his small claim markers on that fief on the map, removing the other claim marker already there. This represents a change in the political affiliation of the heir(s), such as through marriage, birth, death, legal contract, a change of loyalty or outlook by the upcoming generation, etc.

A player may only make a claim on a capital fief if he controls more fiefs in that nation than the player controlling the capital.

To exercise a claim, the player with a claim marker in that fief assumes control of the fief (i.e., replaces the control marker with one of his own).


A player controlling the capital of a nation may declare war on another nation. A player may not declare war between two countries if he controls both capitals.

The player declaring war must also declare a pretext for the war. The possible pretexts are:

The ruler of each nation at war gets one army, and may start it in any fief of his own nation.

When a player declares a war, all of the other players in the game must declare which army they will join. The player controlling the capital of the defending nation may not join the attacker's side (obviously).

At the start of the second or later season of the first campaign, or in any later campaign of the war, a player who contols the capital of a neutral nation may declare that he is joining the war. He must also declare which side he is joining. He may start an army of that nation in any fief of the mobilizing nation. Players who do not control rulers involved in the war may switch to this new army, if they do so as soon as it is announced.

A war between two nations ends as soon as the army of one side is disbanded or sues for peace. Each contested region reverts to the control of the nation which owns the most fiefs within it (the original owner wins ties). A nation "owns" the fiefs of a region which belong to a player on its own side.


Any player may declare a rebellion in a nation containing his home fief, in which he does not control the capital.

If he has a claim on the throne, the rebellion is a usurpation attempt. Otherwise, the rebellion is an independance movement.

In an independance movement, the leader of the rebellion must declare which regions are attempting to gain independance. He must control at least one fief in each rebelling region. His home fief must be in one of the rebelling regions.

The player starting the rebellion gets one army, which must start in his home fief.

The ruler of the nation may assemble one army. It may start assembling in any fief of the nation.

Each fief is friendly to the side on which the controlling player sits.

If the army of the rebellion is disbanded or sues for peace, the rebellion ends and the rebelling regions return to control of the nation. If the national army disbands or sues for peace, the rebellion automatically succeeds, and the regions in rebellion become a new nation together. The home fief of the player who started the rebellion becomes a new capital, and the player owning it must declare a new home fief immediately.


When a war or a rebellion is declared, each player with an army places his army marker on the map in a fief he is allowed to do so. Players then proceed to play a campaign.

A campaign represents up to a year of military activity. Each campaign is divided into the four seasons, starting with spring and progressing through summer, fall, and then winter.
The spring and fall seasons each have 3 campaign turns.
The summer season has 4 campaign turns.
The winter season has only 2 campaign turns.

If the war or rebellion was declared this year, the player who declared it decides in which season he is going to start campaigning. He starts with the initiative, in the first turn of this season. If the campaign is a second or further year of a continuing war or rebellion, it starts with the first turn in spring, and the leaders dice for initiative.

The defending player, and any player who raises an army after the war has started, must assemble his army before he can use it.


The size and composition of an army is determined by the writer of the scenario. As a rough guideline, all armies should be 18-36 elements in size.

All losses from an army are put into a reserve. When an army recruits to replace losses, these new elements are taken out of the reserve and put back into the army.

If an army drops below 12 elements, it automatically disbands.


Battles are fought using the DBA battle rules, but with the addition of these rules for DBA Big Battles.

Each player who leads an army is the C-in-C for his side.

All generals' elements must be either Bd or Kn, unless campaign-specific rules say otherwise for the player's army.

Elements which recoil or flee off the table during battle may move back onto the table anywhere along the same table edge, during a turn in which the player rolled a 6 on his pip die.

The winning army of a battle takes over the initiative in the campaign.


The winner of the game is the player with the highest prestige score. Each player gets prestige points as listed below. Prestige points are cumulative - add up all of the prestige points which apply to each condition, event or action (e.g., destroying a general's element with a Kn element in battle awards the player +3 prestige points).

In battle:
+1 per enemy element destroyed.
+1 for destroying an enemy element with a Kn element.
+1 +1 for destroying an enemy general's element.
+3 for ending an element's movement inside an enemy camp.

+1 per fief the player controls.
+1 per region the player controls.
+1 per capital the player controls.
+1 per enemy fief ravaged during a war for Honor.

Optional Rules

Each of the sections below is a plug-in to the basic rules above. None requires any other optional rules to work; they are all independant additions. Use as many or as few as you like.


An army may drop off or send out detachments of 1-4 elements. A detachment is a small group of troops intended to range ahead of or lag behind the army, to do things such as hold or block terrain, scout, "mop up" enemy resistance, etc.

If playing with detachments, you will need to provide a dozen or so "detachment" markers for each army marker. Each detachment marker should have a unique identifier. Elements sent off in a detachment should be placed on a card or placard marked with the same identifier as the marker to keep track of its composition.

A detachment has a more limited list of actions it may take:

Assembling and disbanding.
A detachment may be assembled at any time during an army's campaign turn, from the elements of an army or another detachment. Simply assign 1-4 elements to an unused detachment marker, and either move the marker from its starting point, or leave it behind in a fief as the parent marker passes through.

A detachment may be disbanded at any time. If it is in the same fief as the army, its elements are rejoined with that army, even if the army is just passing through the fief at the time. If it is not in the same fief as the army, its elements are lost.

Assembling or disbanding a detachment does not count as an action for either the army or the detachment. An attachment may take an action in the same turn it assembles or disbands.

If an army disbands, all detachments assembled from it also disband.

Detachments are moved at the same time as the army takes an action. A detachment's actions are independant of the rest of the army's.

Detachments of entirely mounted troops may move any distance along normal routes, as long as they remain in the same region. Like armies, they must stop as soon as they cross a rough route.

Detachments containing any non-mounted troops may only be moved to or from a fief adjacent to the army.

Detachments may not cross sea routes.

Detachments may not fight battles. If attacked by an army or a larger detachment, they must either retreat, disband or stand siege. If they retreat or stand siege, they suffer attrition just like an army would. A besieged fief with a detachment standing siege inside it counts as being occuped by an army.

A moving or retreating detachment may only stop in an enemy-occupied fief if the enemy detachment is smaller. The enemy detachment must stand siege, retreat or disband.

A detachment or army may move or retreat through a fief containing an enemy detachment, if the enemy is outnumbered. However, the moving army or detachment must roll for attrition, to represent harassing attacks by the unmolested enemy detachment.

A detachment may besiege a fief if no enemy army or detachment is present, and the number of elements in the detachment is at least double the fortress strength of the fief.


In the basic rules above, fleets are assumed to assemble or get hired as the need for sea movement arises. This is simple, but not very accurate. In real life, leaders wishing to cross large bodies of water had to spend time building, hiring, and impressing ships to gather a big enough fleet to embark an army.

If you wish to play with fleets, you will need to provide six fleet markers for each player in the game. Each fleet marker represents a portion of a fleet. A fleet is represented by a number of fleet markers all occupying the same fief. Fleet markers belonging to the same fleet must all move together; they may not move independantly.

Each nation may have one fleet. Each nation's fleet is controlled by the player who controls the capital.

A rebel leader may have a fleet if at least one of the rebelling regions has a friendly coastal fief.

Only a player declaring a war or a rebellion may start with a fleet. Other leaders must assemble a fleet by recruiting, one fleet marker per campaign turn, in a friendly fief of the leader's nation.

Armies may not cross sea routes without a fleet. To cross a sea route, an army must enter the coastal fief containing the fleet and cross one or more sea routes to another coastal fief, accompanied by the fleet markers. Each fleet marker may embark up to 6 elements.

Fleets may move without an army, by sea routes, or between fiefs connected by coastline.

A fleet may not fight unless carrying an army. An unladen fleet is automatically destroyed if attacked by a laden fleet, unless it retreats.

If a laden fleet enters a fief with an enemy laden fleet, the defender must retreat or fight a battle.

A fleet may retreat to any adjacent, friendly coastal fief, but must roll for attrition when it does so.

Naval Battles. If you wish paint and base miniatures and play out sea battles on the table, use these DBA Naval Rules. Otherwise, fight the sea battle like this:

  1. Each player rolls a die. The bigger fleet adds the difference in fleet size to its die roll (i.e., a 5-marker fleet adds +2 if fighting a 3-marker fleet).
  2. Each player loses a number of elements equal to his opponent's die roll.
  3. Continue rolling off, losing elements with each roll, until one army loses 1/3 or more of its elements, thus losing the battle.

The losing fleet is captured. Remove all of the fleet markers of the losing fleet, and count them. The winner may add one of his own fleet markers to his fleet for each enemy fleet marker removed after the battle. A fleet can never have more than 6 fleet markers in it.

The losing army must retreat onto land in the fief where the battle was fought. Treat this retreat exactly like a retreat on land (i.e., keep retreating until clear or destroyed, rolling for attrition each time).


Add one more action to the list of possible actions a player may take each year:

When a player sends a ruler on crusade, the ruler is assumed to be absenting himself from the nation with some number of his nobles, friends and supporters while he marches off to risk his life for fame and glory in battle against the Infidel.

Each year a ruler is on crusade, the player rolls a single die to see what happens:

Add +1 to the die roll for each year the ruler has already been on crusade (i.e., add +1 on the second year, add +2 on the third year, etc.).

In the year that the player sends his ruler on crusade, that is his only action for the entire year. In the following years, the player may take other actions or even pass, but he must still roll to see what happens to his ruler.


Comments? Questions? Mail your input to Ix.