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Author Topic: The Franco-Prussian War - looking for M & F for fun, somewhat realistic roleplay  (Read 1452 times)

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Offline RedEveTopic starter

Okay, I'd like to hear a preferred starting point or even location for your characters?

Offline Chrystal

As we are only a few KM from the border (although I think the border has move three or four times since) the logical time to start would be with the outbreak of the war. However, with the few characters we have available, and the huge scope of the setting, that would not work too well for player interaction.

May I suggest we start the action in early September 1871, shortly after the battle Of Sedan?

The German troops are basically settling in to occupy the area, our French soldier could be in hiding, having been wounded perhaps? he is being helped by these two charming French girls who happen to know each other somehow.

That is my idea.

Perhaps we could have the following start: Von Keitler and Von Zenner have been billeted in the La Roux farm house, much to the consternation of Marie-Claire who happens to be hiding Beauregard in the cellar, unknown to her employers. She has confided this to her friend Yvette who is helping her look after the French soldier.

Between the two of them they cook up a plan to try and get Henri back to his unit, which is thwarted at every turn by Joe and Fred

How does that sound?

Offline RedEveTopic starter

That sounds very good actually, it's a set-up that can involve all of the characters.
Anyone else care to weigh in on the subject?

Offline Chrystal

A small point for the German players. I'm sure you both know this, but I find that if something everyone assumes we all know isn't stated aloud, it always turns out that someone didn't realise it...

This is not WWII, the Germans are not Nazis, there is no Gestapo. Prisoners of War were treated with a certain degree of respect, especially officers. Of course respect does not imply good living conditions - PoW camps are designed to keep captured soldiers from rejoining the fray, and were never nice places to be. The Geneva Convention of 1863 was already in existence, and both Prussia and France were signatories.

Civilians were regarded as non-combatants and the penalty for hiding an enemy soldier would not in fact have been summary execution as it was in WWII. It would, however, have resulted in being arrested, I'm reasonably sure.

There isn't a lot of information regarding the German occupation of France in 1870-71.

Offline Vassus

  • Liege
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I would be very interested in joining, but I would have to join when I get back one week from today. Of course, don't stress accommodating me, I'll fit in where I can. My first instinct was to be a Prussian Soldier, but, again, I can do any role. In order of preferance:
1. Prussian
2.French Soldier
3.French Civilian

Offline JackWhite

I'm definitely okay with this set up.

Offline AlexStone

A small point for the German players. I'm sure you both know this, but I find that if something everyone assumes we all know isn't stated aloud, it always turns out that someone didn't realise it...

This is not WWII, the Germans are not Nazis, there is no Gestapo. Prisoners of War were treated with a certain degree of respect, especially officers. Of course respect does not imply good living conditions - PoW camps are designed to keep captured soldiers from rejoining the fray, and were never nice places to be. The Geneva Convention of 1863 was already in existence, and both Prussia and France were signatories.

While that's true as far as it goes, the Prussians kept to the exact letter of the law when it came to the customs and law of war.  (It's worth noting that the 1863 Convention only prohibited firing on unarmed medical staff tending to the wounded, under the auspices of the Red Cross.  During the the Siege of Paris, the French put a big Red Cross on a hill near their hospital.  The Prussians used it as a reference point for the bombardment of Paris- they never aimed right at it, of course, but just next to it- if there happened to be a hospital near by, it wasn't under the Red Cross.)   This means that the Prussians saw Law and Custom as sort of all or nothing- either you were under its protections fully, or you weren't- and as soon as you broke one of the L&C, you were out of the protections of all of them. 

Of course, it's not like the French were super nice people, either.  The collapse of the French regulars early in the war led to an effort to revive the levee en masse,. This led to an effort to get ill prepared troops to the front, but also boosted the efforts of the Francs-tireurs- quasi official militias and partisans- as they attacked Prussians in the rear areas.  These were usually savage ambushes, conducted by people in civilian clothes- also a violation of the laws and customs of war.  Some of them were intended to be terrifying, and included mutilations and looting.  And, of course, attacks on collaborators and those who supported, helped or sold to the Prussians.  These were usually worse than the attacks on Prussians.

This set up the primary conflict of the rear areas in the war- the Prussians weren't really occupying anything, or setting up governments. They weren't staying, after all.  But, the Francs-tireurs, who saw themselves as part of a legitimate military force, attacked Prussian forces in the rear areas, and then melted into the civilian populace, since they weren't a uniformed, formed body.  In the opinion of the Prussians, this made them murderers, spies and saboteurs,  not soldiers, and thus subject to summary military judgement and execution.  This started legalistically, but reprisals became more and more summary as the war went on, and more and more collective punishments were applied.  In areas where this sort of activity was common, episodes along these lines happened:

1) Francs-tireurs take a few potshots at Prussian column from a church steeple, then bolt.
2) Prussian Column stops what it's doing and heads for village.
3) Prussian officer in charge shoots the mayor.
4) Prussian soldiers burn village, get back on road.

So, yes- there's certainly no Gestapo or secret police, or organized torture rings, or anything like the things we usually think of when we think of World War II.  That said, there's a lot potentially going on, and plenty of rough stuff around.  How much of this we want in the game, it's up to us- we can be in a peaceful part of the rear area, which is fun, or there can be this looming threat of violence, or some rougher stuff.  We can make this work however we like.

Offline RedEveTopic starter

Interesting post Alex.

I suppose the answer to your question is related to how we want the Prussians to treat the French characters?

Offline Chrystal

Hi Alex.

Thanks for posting that.

In fact, that was the way of warfare in the Napoleonic era too.... And quite frankly has always been that way. Civilians in the way of the battle have always been legitimate targets, civilians arming themselves and operating as irregulars behind the lines have always been subject to reprisals.

In case you didn't notice, I have deliberately given Yvette skill with a rifle and with explosives. This makes her a prime candidate for the Francs-tireurs. Yes, I know they were mostly men in 1870, but I'm sure there would be some women, and we can use a little "artistic licence". Plus, a woman would be less suspect that a man at that time.

And I think the Germans and Japanese have always been particularly brutal.

Offline AlexStone

Glad my post was helpful. :) 

Anyway, looking back at the history, since we're looking at the Prussian 2nd Army, may I suggest that we set our game around Metz?  The 2nd Army invested Metz, and was locked down from Mid-August to late October, 1870.  The Army would be pretty stationary, and gives us an easy reason to us Chrystal's setup.  It also gives us something of an ending- the siege ends, and the 2nd Army goes off to fight the Army of the Loire during the winter.  Plenty of time to fill between all of that happening, and a Hussar and a member of the Horse Artillery aren't going to be doing much other than riding around looking for trouble.  Or French dames.  Whatever.

And yes, civilians who shoot up columns of soldiers do tend to get treated pretty poorly, since you can't tell who the civilians and who the soldiers are- and soldiers who just lost friends to people that are thumbing their noses at them while hiding behind other civilians tend to get rather pissed off and smoke the whole village.  At least, if the civilians behave themselves, it's not so bad.

But, yes, the burning question is, how to the French civilians want to be treated?  I mean, I'm game for whatever.

Offline Chrystal

In fact, the small town that RedEve placed her character in is about 30km east from Metz, and the village I chose for mine is about 5km south of there.

I actually suggested September for that very reason. Most of the action has moved on... Napoleon III has been captured and the third republic is being formed, Metz is under seige with the bulk of what was left of the French regular army bottled up inside. Faulquemont is close enough to have troops billeted there for R&R but far enough away for there to be no actual fighting and Civilians to be pretty much doing what they would normally do.

Moral of the story, don't blow up a train in your own back yard!

This particular French civilian would prefer to be keeping the Bosch, and the French soldiers for that matter, at arms length, but would happily do a three-way so long as the other French civilian was involved too and was the one doing all the stuff to the bloke involved.... *shrug* Sorry, but my gate swings the other way.

Offline AlexStone

Hey, whatever gets you going, Chrystal. I'll have to see if the Zeiss Company is making good optics in 1870, so my Hussar can watch the good stuff. :)

Well, I think that settles a lot, really.  I guess a lot of how the story goes depends on Red, since she came up with the idea, and she'll have to a lot of the... heavy lifting, so to speak.

Offline RedEveTopic starter

Actually you both have done a stellar job at helping me set up the details. :P

I suppose the one we would have to discuss is the role of the troops who have stayed behind as opposed to being part of the forces laying siege to Metz?

Offline AlexStone

Well, it's easy for me- my character is an officer in the Hussars, and there's not much for Hussars to do in the middle of a siege that involves actual siegecraft.  He's probably responsible for leading small patrols of cavalry round the area from time to time, but he's not really high enough rank to make many decisions- so, he's here, and he's bored, and he's probably going to get into trouble. :)

Offline Chrystal

For those who have no idea what Alex is talking about, Hussars are light cavalry. Most often used for skirmishing, screening, and scavenging. In a siege, there is very little use for cavalry. About the only purpose cavalry can serve to the besieging forces is to patrol the area around the siege and make sure that the enemy don't come sneaking up behind you, also escorting supplies to the besieging forces. The only time they might be involved in the siege itself is if the besieged forces sallied out or tried to break out.

As for Frederick Von Zenner, he's in the horse artillery. Just a suggestion mind, but horse artillery is light, highly mobile artillery. It is very effective in the field in open battle, as it can be brought up quickly, set up, fire at the enemy lines and either advance after the infantry, giving constant support, or retreat very quickly, giving covering fire to a retreating army.

However, the range is relatively short and the shot fired relatively light compared to fixed mount weapons that would be found on fortified defensive positions. To deal with the big guns of a 19th century fort, rail mounted siege weapons would probably be used. Horse artillery would be extremely vulnerable to counter-battery fire and thus would not be much use in a siege.

Now, if the guns of Herr Von Zenner's battery were parked in a field near the farm, with the horses stabled there... (Eve, perhaps it's a stud farm, with all the horses commandeered by the French army, and the stabling used by a squadron of Hussars and a battery of Horse Artillery), ... um, where was I? Oh yes, if those guns were near by thgey would provide a tempting target for a certain lady "shoe-thrower" to make some mischief with...

Offline Haibane

It's about the face, not his gear.
Coming in at random from the outside and not wanting to cause offence, I'd say the face was inappropriate as well. Its a modern face, modern hairstyle and wearing a very inappropriate expression. He needs long straight hair and almost certainly a moustache, possibly a goatee style beard as well. He would always wear a hat which adds to the character.

Try a few period paintings or as Chrystal suggested some uniform guides.

While I know the clothing is not a part of the characters personality, placing a period face into period costume goes a long way to helping your co-writers connect with the person.

All I see there is a 21st century male, even if he was naked he would not have the look or persona of a 19th century soldier.

Offline RedEveTopic starter

Chrystal: it could quite perfectly be a stud farm.

So we are all more or less in agreement that the game will start at the farm, and that Jack's character will already be in hiding there.
I suppose all I need to know now is how well (or not) the Prussians would have treated the owners and various workmen at the farm.

Offline AlexStone

Well, as far as I'm concerned about that question, I think it's more a question of how the French want to be treated.  My character would be inclined to treat them appropriately- not the same as kindly, of course- but wouldn't be violent or abusive without a reason.

That said, if the French players want violent or abusive, then that can change.

Offline RedEveTopic starter

Right, I was speaking specifically about their initial stance.

After they arrive at the farm and commandeer the stables for their own animals.

Offline rancorius

i'm interested I would like to play a Prussian jager but i'm willing to do a french soldier if need be

Offline RedEveTopic starter

I'm willing to let you play either, though you should take into consideration that the balance between French and Prussian soldiers is already heavily skewed towards the Prussian side.

Offline Chrystal

On the other hand, if we have too many French soldiers hiding in the farm, it's going to be difficult to hide them... And if we have an equal balance of French and Priussian military, fighting will ensue!

I know what your original idea post said, Eve honey, and it's a great idea, and would actually work really well if you had about twenty players... You could have five play French civilians and the other 15 play French soldiers first and then switch to playing Prussians... the French retreat throgh the village and the Prussians follow them!

But with half a dozen or so of us, it is unlikely to be possible to work that, hence my suggestion of the plot-line.

I've tried to run a "grand, sweeping epic story" before with a handful of characters and seriously, it doesn't work!

Offline JackWhite

I've tried to run a "grand, sweeping epic story" before with a handful of characters and seriously, it doesn't work!

The Wild West thing?

Offline Chrystal

The Wild West thing?

Actually, no, that was supposed to be a sandbox. It was a much earlier idea about a group of human colonists on a world populated by giant driders. I didn't get enough people on both sides to make it work.

Offline RedEveTopic starter

Hey people,

I know you have been waiting some time now for me to start this thing, but my intention is to do so this weekend.
I will be gone for most of today (starting around noon).
I will also be otherwise occupied tomorrow morning, but I have most of Sunday afternoon and night free, and I intend to devote a good chunk of it to getting this game going.
So with some luck, I hope to get the IC thread up by tomorrow night.