An article I read in the New Scientist on why people got involved in the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia triggered some ideas about trying to run a game about the locals caught amidst an insurgency campaign.
Farming Today, Fighting Tomorrow?
This is a game to explore why people become insurgents (or perhaps not). Most of the players will be tribal elders leading their group of peasant farmers and directing their decisions about what to grow where and making sure that they can feed themselves and afford to buy the things they need to improve their lives and farms. Loosely set in modern Afghanistan I’ve taken huge liberties with the agrarian system and abstracted it to a level that can play through years in minutes. However I want to play on an event based accelerated real time basis through a period of a few years with a semi-kreigspieled combat system (should that even be necessary).
I think it would work best with about four local players, plus a couple of military players (1 ANA & 1 NATO) and perhaps another umpire to assist. At a minimum we can probably do with three players and me and I’ll plumpire the military side. If turnout was good I think that it could absorb a couple more players, so 3-10 people plus me. Minimum time is probably a couple of hours and we could probably play/discuss all day if no-one had any alternative sessions.
Locals operate on the principle of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend“. Each tribe is its own group and works on a very tight knit basis, all of them having the same broad allegiance. Some sample briefing and objectives below.
Your land is a war-zone. You want this to end at the earliest possible time, ideally without any further loss to your people. In fact there might well be some way that you can profit from the chaos and the reconsitrcution and aid budgets of the foreigners helping your national government. However, you need to remember that you will continue to live here with the people once the foreigners have gone home, and you need to make sure that you avoid making enemies of those that will also remain here as much as possible. If you do make some enemies, then you need to either make amends, or get some powerful allies.
Objectives (in order of importance)
Â· maintain the prestige and standing of the tribe
Â· be pious and well respected in the community
Â· add to the holdings of the tribe and their prosperity
Â· increase your tribe’s share of local position
Some mechanism ideas
There needs to be a table showing the contribution to being self-sustaining from the point of view of livestock owned, fields farmed (depending on size and crop grown), and cash spent. If there is insufficient food then accrue a hunger marker and if too many hunger markers then someone may die. This might well be in the gift of the player controlling, but perhaps not.
Tribes will have resources in the following terms:
Â· cash (measured in dollars)
Â· fields (different areas, but perhaps all a standard fertility level)
Â· livestock (unspecified number of animals)
Â· food stocks (unspecified but enough to negate a hunger marker per unit)
Â· small arms (a measure of how many men can be equipped)
Â· heavier weapons (RPGs, machine guns, etc)
Â· vehicles (only motorised, ignore donkey carts etc)
Â· men (probably in some broad age groups – teenagers, unmarried men, husbands, fathers, grandfathers)
Â· women (unmarried & married is probably enough, but perhaps grandmothers also)
Â· children (male/female in 0-5, 6-10, 11-14) – maybe too much complexity
very abstract, three types of growth
Â· food (both human and animals)
Â· cash crops (gives money rather than food, but could be food at a pinch)
Â· illicit drugs (gives money, definitely not useful as food)
[poss crop yield of 5 tonnes of food per acre]
[poppy gives 3-5kg per acre, profit margin is 50-100 times that of surplus food, and about ten times that of other cash crops. In 2002 the farmer got $300 per kilo, the traffickers out of Afghanistan got $800 and it had a street value of $16,000 in Europe. Raw opium is bulky and jelly like, a basic lab (which could be in a field) can convert it into morphine base which can be dried and converted into bricks for easy transport and storage. ]
I need to go and do lots more reading around this to see if I can get enough info to run a realistic game.