On the train this morning, I was thinking about how to justify the prevalence of harriers and chargers. Somewhere along the way, I asserted that the two most common tactical roles were the harrier and the charger, but I hadn’t taken the time to substantiate it. I just knew it. Harriers and chargers were always supposed to be the most common.

Now, I started using Quest for Glory as a model, since cookiemonger had been playing it at the time. Goblins were harriers and brigands were chargers. It was that simple. Harriers were harder to hit and recovered quickly, and chargers soaked up and dished out a lot of damage. Straightforward, sure, but why were they the most common?

This morning, factions drifted back into my mind. They’re supposed to represent broad categories of characters within social groups – outlaws, knights, princes, tribes, and experts. I’ve been playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed lately (AC2 and Brotherhood) and so factions have been at the forefront of my mind. I understood guards.

Guards are chargers. They aren’t necessarily disciplined, they aren’t soldiers. Keepers are more easily classified as soldiers. Even mercenaries aren’t necessarily keepers, since they’re even less likely to be organized (they aren’t anything close to resembling the armies-for-hire we have today), and less likely to be disciplined.

But then I had put myself in this weird position of making chargers prevalent as both brigands and guards, which could make sense, except that the guards are supposed to have some kind of advantage, otherwise what would be the point of defense? Bandits prey, guards defend. It has to work mechanically somehow.

Maybe it doesn’t strictly have to work mechanically, but guards have to be an effective deterrent for a reason other than “the bandits don’t want to risk their lives.” When you’re playing a numbers game, which most tabletop roleplaying games are, you need a numerical representation of why bandits don’t just keep attacking until they win.

Then I thought of tribal warriors as being the ideal harriers and something clicked. My faction wheel was off – I rearranged it so outlaws preyed on tribes as before, but I moved them so there was more of a direct correlation between the two. Knights were shifted directly after them, and princes slid in after them.

Tribes < Outlaws < Knights < Princes < Experts

It goes around. Both knights and experts have their advantage against outlaws, and outlaws retain their advantages against princes and tribes. Princes still have the advantage over knights, but are now toppled by experts, whom now have a bit more political and/or socioeconomic clout, if that makes any sense.

This order also establishes how common one type is compared to another. Tribes before outlaws, but both are more prevalent than knights, and them moreso than princes. Prince factions are still more common than experts, which belong to an established minority. Tribes, outlaws, knights, princes, and experts.

I then applied the tactical roles to the factions. Harriers and spikers go to tribes, chargers and harriers to outlaws, chargers and keepers to knights, keepers and trappers to princes, and trappers and spikers to experts. Though spikers are the rarest tactical role, they are most often found among tribes and experts.