THE AFRIBORIAN WORLD: INTRODUCTION AND CAMPAIGN MECHANICS.
The Afriborian Campaign is a homage to Tony Bath and his Hyborian Campaign ("mother of all wargames- & fantasy campaigns") and it is therefor only logical that this modern campaign should reflect the spirit and follow the mechanics of how campaigns were directed in those early days of devotion to the hobby, simple rules and sheer fun. As far as the tactical rules are concerned, we can be brief: the rules used for this engagement are "Afriboria - Miniature battles in a colonial setting", fastplay card driven colonial rules (downloadable for free at http://www.tsoa.be/ - Antwerp Fuseliers rules section). Although a product of a later era, "Afriboria" might just as well have been amongst the wargames rules used by Tony Bath and friends because they are simple, fast playing and fun to game with. Much like the Hyborian Campaign, the Afriborian project is partly a solo campaign. This does not mean that only one player is taking part, but that the person in control is not just an umpire, but a game master (GM) in control of the world he created. Read on and you will understand.
PHASE 1: the map of the Afriborian continent is drawn, lakes, forests and mountain ranges are added and the whole is divided into countries, based roughly on 19th century Africa and part of Asia. The continent is a peninsula, so that - if the GM later wishes so - more countries (e.g. Far Eastern types) can be added. Major towns are placed on the map. History of the continent, politics etc are not yet defined: there is time enough to do so once countries become "active" and involved in the adventures of the major character.
PHASE 2: a "main character" (MC) is defined: in this case a Belgian administrator that will spend 40 years of his life in Afriboria. His objective is clear: to gain experience, serve his king well by playing a (major) part in the creation of a new colony and becoming the "Viceroy" of it (or at least try...). Most (but not all) the actions in the campaign (political & military) are centered around this major character. Unless the GM wants to end the campaign before this character is 40 years older, he cannot be killed, but he can suffer all sorts of mishaps (being made a prisoner or severely wouned, suffering of tropical illnesses etc), keeping him further away from his ultimate goals. This is also the case for other characters (OC) in the game .
PHASE 3: strategical moves. Live is simple: the map is there to explore. The GM starts by defining the MC's first mission. Every mission (be it for MC or OC) has a goal. Whether or not this will be reached succesfully depends on the (solo) PLAYER (not the MC or OC's) winning a battle (or a number of battles, or succeeding in a venture or several ventures, or a combination of both). This is being explained in PHASE 4. There are no (hexagonal) map moves as such: the GM (within the framework of events) simply decides where the next action is going to take place, by sending the character(s) involved on a mission in that area. The advantage of this less ridgid system is that (contrary to a campaign controlled by counters, hexes and true time-related moves) you are e.g. not confronted with having to solve umpteen battles in a number of countries after one given move or e.g. having to fight six battles of Boers against Zulus in a row. Remember: the MC's future and the development of a Belgian colony are the ultimate goal of the exercise and the framework for the campaign as such.
PHASE 4: the solo-system. Over the years, I couldn't help noticing that whatever rules were used for solo-gaming, because of the nature of playing against oneself, the solo-rules always were different in concept from "normal" rules to keep the game interesting and trying to avoid favouring one side or the other. Since I like TSATF, I thought of a simple system to play the solo-games in my Afriborian campaign, without having to adopt the rules. Being mainly a solo venture, the campaign in not centered around one country/ one player. It rather tells the tale of the main character (the I-person), who links the battles and is the main reason behind the whole campaign (the Red Shadow is another example of this). So it is in the first place not very important which army is victorious, but for the main character to reach his final goals: creating a colony for Belgium and rising from simple accountant to governor-general (he should be so lucky...). In order to let the story develop, the MC, or sometimes the OC's, has or have to take part in a number of missions (starting with simple ones) that lead(s) him or them to visit most (or all) the countries on the map, taking part in politics and battle. So I linked the campaign performance of the MC or OC's to the result of the battles. E.g.: in his first mission the MC has to travel to the capital of the Suid-Kolonie (Boers) in order to convince the Boer Governor to sign a trade-agreement with the Belgian trade-post on the continent (the humble beginning of the Belgian colony). This is the MC's first mission objective. On the way to the Boer capital he (and his askaris) will have to do battle with a band of renegade Boers allied to a Zulu impi. The game is played solo, and both the Belgians and renegades have a number of objectives (to gain victory-points). The battle also has a set number of gameturns. After the second turn, a normal D6 (or two percentage dice, whatever) is cast. 1-2-3: the player has played as the Belgian during the first two turn, 4-5-6 he played as the Boer renegade (a 50% chance). This is repeated every other turn, untill the game ends. The player will only then find out for what side he has (really) been playing and if the total of victory points gained by the side he ends up with is the highest, he has won the battle and his character achieves his mission objective (in this case: a trade agreement with the Boer government). If the SOLO-PLAYER finds himself at the loosing end after the last gameturn, the CHARACTER ends up with a negative result. This can be a fixed situation (and has to be decided upon before the battle starts): e.g. being wounded and having to reside in hospital for a few months, having to report back his failure to his superiors, or a choice of situations, for which again a die is cast. The MC can never be a mortal casuality in battle or the campaign would end. One could of course only cast the die deciding what side one has played for only ONCE (at the end of the game), but I believe the psychological effect on the solo-player of having to cast the die every second turn (and perhaps having to change sides...) is important. It keeps the solo-player on the edge: the "grand tactics" are dictated by the victory points, but the fact that the SOLO PLAYER knows the intentions of both sides is not important: he has to try and get the best out of all units on the battlefield since he simply doesn't know what side he is going to end up with!