|Pecheneg raiding force sweeping through|
the coastal plains of Thraces
"The winter of imperial content following the coronation and investment in the purple of the young Dementius Katanyxis was followed by a spring of travail and a summer of woe. The provinces along the Mesogesean littoral had long been disaffected, and, after the warm glow of a new rule had faded, once more the mutter of sedition began making itself heard. Fortunately, the northern provinces, apart from remote Cherson, were on the whole well in hand, and the relations with the peoples beyond the frontiers there were as cordial.
Then, as February thawed into March, the Strategos of Southern Italy, George Kantankeros, announced himself the despot of Campania and Apulia, and declared himself independent from and no subject of Byzantium.
Naturally, the new Emperor was eager to test his sword, however reluctant to shed the blood of his subjects. The landowning military family Kantankeros had long been imperial rivals, and were themselves descended in a direct line from porphyrogenites. Such a rival might well not content himself with a none-too-rich territory at the southern end of Italy, and make a serious bid for the Imperial throne itself. The likelihood could not be risked.
At once the Emperor outfitted an expedition from the Imperial forces based around Byzantium to bring the nascent despotate back into the Imperium, and to decorate the walls of Brindisi with Kantankeros's head and extremities. By early April, his sea going transports and warships were across the Ionian sea, and the Imperial Army landed upon the Italian shore before Kantankeros could organise a fleet to stop them.
It was at this moment that Barbarians chose to make incursions into both ends of the Empire. First, the Patzinaks (Pechenegs) were permitted by the Bulgars to cross their territories and begin burning and plundering about Anchialus. The Strategos of Thessaloniki, Isaac Salonikos, at once gathered his full strength to intercept the raiders.
|Intercepting column of |
At the other end of Empire, the long-festering enmity between the Fatimid Caliphate and the Empire burst into open warfare, as the Emir Dumai Ed Din carried a large army into the region about Antioch. The Strategos at Seleucia entrusted to the guardianship of the Levantine frontier, Constantine Constantinopoulos, hastily gathered what force was immediately to hand, and caught up with the Fatimid Army not far from the ancient city..." Michael Psellophanes, 'Byzantiad'
|First battles - to contain barbarian raids and to put down a revolt.|
So much for the chronicler's narrative. All this was decided by dice rolls as follows:
I have decided to conflate Barbarian and Byzantine attitudes into a single series of dice rolls instead of two. The reason was that we got a situation in which a reasonably friendly power (2 rolled) was extremely disliked by the Empire (6). This seemed to me too hard to reconcile, so I just went with the initial series:
1. Lombards - 4 = not especially friendly; not especially hostile relations. Cool, but not in a very good way.
2. Bulgars - 2 = Quite cordial relations for the moment, and likely to last a while.
3. Pechenegs - 6 = Pechenegs (Patzinaks according to Byzantines) get the urge to take a slap at the empire. Plunder, loot and booty all beckon. Especially booty.
4. Rus - 1 = Very friendly relations exist between Empire and the Principality. Those stupid Patzinaks have probably timed their raid very badly!
5. Abasgian - 2 = Cordial relations with Empire
6. Armenians - 4 = Relations a little strained, but not yet dangerously so.
7. Seljuks - 2 = On good terms with Empire
8. Fatimids - 6 = Very hostile towards Empire, embark upon a raid that might yet morph into jihad - all out war.
|Clash of Pecheneg and Byzantine, upon a featureless |
plain not far from Anchialus.
1. Brindisi - 6 = Local commander declares himself an independent and autonomous despot of the territories he governs. This is open insurrection, though not yet a bid to take over the whole Empire
2. Mystras - 5 = Not at all happy; a lot of popular murmurings against the central power
3. Thessaloniki - 4 = Not bad, though signs that maybe the spirit of insurrection at the Imperial fringes is beginning to have its effect a deal closer to the centres of power.
4. Nicaea - 1 = Staunch. The Domestic of the Schools can be trusted to keep matters in hand
5. Cherson - 5 = Disaffected. It is possible that the Emperor might be forced to call upon the Rus to help out there should Cherson (Crimea) break into open revolt.
6. Koloneia - 1 = Loyal and trustworthy
7. Seleucia - 5 = Disaffected. However, subject to attack from without, is far more likely to be called to their loyalty to empire than otherwise
8. Constantinople - no roll, not with the Emperor present! But were he to depart...
Now, as defending forces seek to intercept invaders, they must roll for the first clash to determine the size of the force immediately available. The results are;
D6 = 1, 2: 4 units only, selected from the 6 unit list
D6 = 3, 4: 5 units only, selected from the 6 unit list
D6 = 5, 6: all 6 units available.
Note that, if defeated, in subsequent battles the defending army in increased by 1 unit until the maximum of 6 is reached.
In this instance the battles are to be:
Battle of Anchialus - 6 Pecheneg attackers vs 6 Byzantine defenders
Battle of Antioch - 6 Fatimid attackers vs 5 Byzantine defenders
Battle of Brindisi - 6 Imperial attackers vs 4 Provincial defenders.
To be continued: 'The Patzinak Raid'.
A nice, simple system. It seems the new emperor has quite a bit on his plateReplyDelete
Bill Shakespeare might have put it: 'Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown; they bear a heavy burden the shoulders that wear the purple.' :-D Potentially, the Empire can call upon seven armies to defend its frontiers, but of course, the insurrection of Kantankeros has instantly reduced that to 5.
Methinks the Empire is in for some interesting times...
That ancient Chinese curse, may you live in interesting times...Delete
Great start Archduke - I like your Campaign mechanics.ReplyDelete
Psellophanes! Good name.
Maudlin Jack -Delete
A hiss and a roar is a good way to start a narrative! Of course, if things get TOO exciting, I might have to moderate the pace...
So do the Provincial and Xenographic relations get rerolled each turn, or do the fluctuate logically from those starting figures?ReplyDelete
Kaptain Kobold -Delete
They will fluctuate, the D6 roll determining whether relations stay the same or waver towards the friendlier or unfriendlier. Numbers can go to zero (an ally) or to 7 (a real enemy bent on conquest). How the Barbarians get on with each other will largely be determined by their relationship with the Empire.
For instance, the Rus are on very good terms with the Empire. When next the Xenographical relations is rolled, if the 'hostility' figure gets reduced to 0, expect to see the Rus marching against the Pechenegs.
I haven't yet fully determined the frequency of these 'rerolls', playing that one by ear for the moment. But I think it will be at the termination of each raid/revolt/ war sequence.
We began with three. Each sequence will last a maximum of 3 battles. At the end of these three, any changes to the present provincial and xenographical situations will be determined.
This may mean all sorts of revolts and raids to come. That might well mean that any battle 'reports' will be reduced to single paragraphs in order to keep in sight the larger narrative.
Most of this will (I hope!) become clearer in due course.
I was intrigued by the suggestion of naval action as well. I don't know much about naval combat in this era; is it predominantly land-battles fought at sea, with a bit of Greek fire lobbed in?
I'm not very sure, Kaptain. It seems, though, that Greek fire was the decisive weapon in those times. However, the Byzantines didn't have things all their own way, and the Fatimids in particular seem to have had incendiary weapons of their own. The Byzantines tended to find the upkeep of their navy often subject to neglect and even peculation by its high command.Delete
I'll have to find out more about the naval warfare of the times. But Greek fire was not the only weapon. Archery, scythes to cut rigging, 'toxoballistrae' - which I infer to be bolt-shooting artillery (though it might mean crossbow), caltrops and grapnels, were also weapons used. It was said you could tell a naval men by his ability to throw a javelin whilst sitting down (Byzantine ships were NOT rowed by slaves). Grappling and boarding seems to have been the favourite method of fighting.
Anna Comnena describes a battle against (if memory serves) a superior Venetian fleet (the Venetian navy long having established a high naval reputation). At a loss what to do, she says, the Byzantine admiral suddenly bethought himself of his fire syphons, and won a great victory. It reads like an attempt to inject a little drama into story of the incident, but it just possible that Greek fire was a weapon of last resort, as fairly dangerous to the user. This is my own speculation, though.
Interesting mechanics, I like the situation first, explanation later approach. Good luck in this campaign.ReplyDelete
Thanks pancerni -Delete
I hoped that the 'Psellophanes' narrative first would be the more initially engaging to readers. As relations change, I'll do much the same thing. The next time the overall situation is assessed will be at the 'conclusion' of the present raids and revolt. For a given value of 'conclusion'!
A good start to the campaign Ion, with plenty to keep the Emperor occupied. I’m sure we are all looking forwards to reading more…ReplyDelete
I must admit I’ve always had a certain fondness the Pechenegs. On a raid, however, I would be tempted to say that if things start to go wrong then the foot archers may have to make their own way home (if only because everyone else if mounted). Then again, I’d hardly think that their “war wagons” are particularly mobile either, not compared to swift moving ponies anyway.
If things start to “go badly” for Kantankeros at Brindisi would he be able to appeal to the Lombards for possible assistance? Of course, they might just want to sit back and let the Byzantines squabble amongst themselves - before moving in to “pick up the pieces”.
Off at a slight tangent, but I saw https://www.amazon.co.uk/Emperors-Byzantium-Kevin-Lygo/dp/0500023298/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2BY1X1PT194G4&keywords=byzantine+emperors&qid=1648985140&sprefix=Byzantine+emperors%2Caps%2C71&sr=8-2 in a bookshop yesterday. It looks a decent overview so I may pick up a copy - after I’ve read a few reviews.
Good luck with the forthcoming battles.
Cheers, Geoff -Delete
I had a quick look at the link, and the publication looks like quite a nice overall history, bearing in mind there's one thousand years of it. It's really a history of emperors, but it's also a history of an empire that took a long, long time to fall. After all, Edward Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' doesn't actually end until its last vestiges disappeared a few years after 1453.
The situation in Brindisi is certainly complicated, and there is every possibility that the Lombards could intervene before the matter is resolved. However, in his haste to oppose the Imperial landing, Kantankeros has but 4 units available to begin with, and the Emperor has a qualitative edge into the bargain. This one might not 'go the distance'.
Since I don't (yet) have any war wagons, the Pechenegs will make do with bow infantry for now. I don't know whether WWg went with the raids anyhow. Now, if the Pechenegs were bent on carving out territory for themselves (Hostility level 6+1=>7), then methinks the 'ships of the steppe' might well make an appearance. I'll have to make one.
All the best,
Hello there Archduke,ReplyDelete
You certainly seem to have seem to have entered into the spirit of the age with some of the names….This looks like it will produce some cracking and varied actions so sign me up for future instalments! My Money is on Dumas Ed Din!
All the best,
Hi David -Delete
Some of the names, slightly revised, come out of Anna Comnena - and I really must have another look at my Michael Psellus as well. But I also have a Classical Greek dictionary by me, and occasionally a 'name' will emerge from there, e.g. Kanthylios (pack ass). He'll turn up somewhere, I dare say!
After the Pecheneg narrative, we'll see how Dumai Ed Din got on. (I don't know myself, yet!)
As usual your maps and figures look fantastic!
Cheers, Brian -Delete
The figures are just a bit of fun - but they do seem to add ... something!