The Conduct of War in Albion

“When Albion sends her eager sons to war,
Some thoughtless town, with ease and plenty blessed,
Near, and more near, the closing lines invest;
Sudden they seize th'amazed, defenceless prize,
And high in air Britannia's standard flies.”

This is designed as a guide to military and navy forces and their utilisation in the world of Albion. This is by no means required reading and is here for flavour and to help those who wish to engage in this sort of thing get their head around how it might all work.

Who to Fight?

The favoured enemies of Albion are Spain and France, though the former is usually preferred. Though a Peace has recently been signed this is not necessarily a deterrant to Privateering and Spanish shipping is always a tempting target.

Strong alliances with France over the past years have made French shipping and possessions less attractive as targets in case a serious incident should occur. This could incur a heavy penalty by the King at the behest of the French Ambassador and would be bad for business. Likewise, Portugese Captains are respected as fine upstanding sailors and good enemies of the Spanish - the occasional ship may still become a target but a serious increase in attacks could turn out badly.

Most other countries are considered fair game for Privateering, though Catholics (Italian States and the Knights of Malta for example) are preferred.

Land Forces

With increasingly little land to fight on, the Army of Albion has increasingly adapted to river, island and even open-sea fighting, with many techniques pioneered during the Civil Wars. Though a few regiments in the New World have ignored the new tactics, most soliders are now comfortable fighting and firing from a boat, and many have at least a basic grasp of navigation.

The flood spelled the end of cavalry, and the few remaining horsemen have found their home in the North as those more flexible in outlook joined the Horticulturalists and took to the sky on gryphons.

Cannons and other siege weapons have become lighter and easier to transport by necessity, and versions which can be used from the safety of a ship being pioneered enthusiastically and tested rather less so (because inevitably they have the potential to cause far greater damage to the ship they are mounted on than whatever they are aimed at).

Armies Fighting

“He lifts the tube, and levels with his eye;
Straight a short thunder breaks the frozen sky.”

Pitched battles, with the ensuing cavalry charges, musket fire and lines of infantry hitting each other with big sticks (more commonly known as pikes), are increasingly rare. Much warfare now takes the form of many small boats attempting to land and get men out and onto land, whilst the defenders lob alchemical fire at the boats and open fire with muskets once they are close enough, pikes being used as a last resort to try and keep the boats away before the whole thing degenerates into a line of men pushing and shoving at the water’s edge.


With the advent of cannons as powerful siege weapons, fortified places are usually taken by storm (rather than waiting for the defenders to starve and let you in in exchange for their lives). So of course there is excellent opportunity for rushing in, killing everyone and taking all their money.

Specialist Weapons and Magic

On the whole specialist weapons are rarely used because they demand specialists to use them (duh!) which requires a lot of training, something not available to regiments raised for specific conflicts. Franzbergs, inventions known for their explosive potential, have become a part of the battlefield, though are used with extreme caution as their danger can be just as great to the side using them as the enemy.

Wizards of various types are rarely used because of their relative scarcity and high value. Conjurers are prefered for their morale-affecting illusions but others have been known to pop in and try the occasional trick. They naturally become targets on the battlefield and so mostly prefer not to risk themselves, unless they are mad, which they invariably are.

Sea Forces

Those sailing the high seas operate in mysterious and unknown crafts. It has something to do with ropes… and wind… and, clever things. Though Albion has no official navy, the role is played by the Army and Venerable Order. The Army generally confines its activities to the seas around Albion, whilst the Order hare across the seas at the whisper of an under-defended galleon full of Spanish gold.

The Horticulturalists have introduced another important force to the ocean – that of sea serpents. Though the full capabilities of these creatures are not publicized, it is known that two of them can carry a ship above the waves considerably faster than any wind…or draw it beneath the waves. It is for this reason that many ships now carry ballistas and serpent-spears.


You take your cannons, you point them at the other ship, and you try and sink it. Generally you do this by breaching their hull and making all the water flow in.


Harder to do, but far more profitable. You try and disable the enemy ship by various clever techniques (such as cool things you load into your cannons), come alongside them (by some cool sailing), lower planks and swing on ropes and start killing the helpless/bloodthristy/raving mad enemy (using cool cutlasses and muskets). Hope you kill the crew, capture the captain and generally win.

The 'prize' is then taken back to port and hey! you have another ship to sell or keep under your command with the help of a trusted man or woman as the new captain. Oh, and all the loot, too, if it's a trader. I mean… that's what you're generally after, right?

Air Forces

Despite the constant rumours to the contrary, Albion is the only land known to have an air-force. Thus, there are no aerial battles, and the dragons and gryphons are used to support other attacks.


In battle dragons are terrifying, destructive and, fortunately for Albion's enemies, rare. Whether this is because they are kept in reserve, or are reluctant to fight noone who knows is saying, though plenty who don't engage in heated debates about it.

When they do fight, they are usually tended to by many humans. Harness provides somewhere for the humans to cling onto, and armour of at least a breast-plate is the norm. Longbowmen fire from platforms fixed to the back (the art has enjoyed something of a resurgence because of this, with many peasants taking to the daily practice required simply for the hope of escaping drudgery by winning a position on board a dragon and therefore in the Horticulturalists) and a witch to tend to any injuries the dragon may receive.

Of course, the main weapon on a dragon is not the humans on its back, but itself. Dragons are big, heavy, and armed with very sharp claws. Then, of course, there's the fire-breathing trick.


Fast and maneuverable, gryphons are mainly used as messengers or skirmishers. They are particularly effective in supporting naval battles, sweeping in to harry bow-men on mast tops or carry particularly lengthy or important messages between ships without the risk of interception and decoding that semaphore carries.

Individual Combat

Of course the cream (or the very dregs) of society resort to a lot of personal, single or small combat. This is probably swashing your buckle, acrobatic antics with a sword and some really clever quips. There are as few or as many rules as you might allow and no end of variation and innovation. Some prefer to excell at swordsmanship, others help themselves along with a little magic and there are probably those that creep behind you and horribly stab you in the back, filthy people that they are.


With pistols, swords or whatever weapon you care to name, the tradition of duelling is still strong. It's not generally frowned upon when the objective is not to kill the other person… but you might accidentally do that, so there is always a risk of being disgraced after going in for a little light-hearted (honour-defending) sword-play.

Conducting a War Against Filthy Foreigners

The King retains the prerogative for declaring and waging war, so it's up to him to decide which filthy foreigners are in need of killing. In the time of war there is not necessarily any fighting going on all the time, it just means that doing so is legal and fair-game - the Spanish Ambassador can't complain that you've blown up Burgos.

The King is very likely to leave the actual military operations to men more competent/wealthy/powerful (and more interested) than him. So it's up to them to arrange transport to that foreign country, as well as meeting them and beating them and having all the fun before the dastards sue for peace and give the King lots of money to tell you to stop. At which point it's a little rude to continue openly killing the enemy and stealing their money.

war.txt · Last modified: 2007/10/04 14:35 by innokenti