Star of Bravery Special – Behind the Scenes

Before we head to the big finale, I wanted to give you a quick overview on how Star of Bravery actually works as a campaign system. I guess the two most important things are: First, it’s not a map campaign but a purely narrative one, focussing on the careers of the players’ characters. And second, both players (i.e. Sigur and me) are on the same side.

We started with each of us creating a character who would be the main leader of our force. For this, we used the character creation rules from the Sharp Practice rulebook. The only difference was the new background table I made to account for the peculiarities of imperial France. Sigur ended up with Capt. Bénes and I got Cpt. Cruchon.

Each campaign turn features one game for each of us, with the other player commanding the Austrians. There are several ways to determine which scenario to play: a random scenario table, a table for special assignements and of course the requirements of the progressing narrative, such as was the case with Cruchon’s rescue attempt in episode 8.

During the game, each character has a chance to acquire honour points by performing heroic deeds, such as delivering a crashing volley at close range or leading a charge and winning the resulting melee. After the game, the points are added up and a player can roll if his character is accepted into the Legion of Honour – which, to our mutual surprise, happened after the first game to Capt. Bénes!

When the game is finished, a player also draws a card which gives him a campaign event to resolve. Each event demands that the player makes a decision – for example, when meeting a doctor asking for help, the players has to decide whether to detach some of his men to help, impress locals to help the doctor or march on without stopping. After the decision is made, the player rolls a dice, which determines the outcome of the event. For example, when Cruchon detached men to help the doctor, one of his groups was delayed for the next game. However, he also acquired a new friend, namely Dr. Pincecourt.

Players can also be challenged to a duel or even duel each other – something we never did because the duels we were forced to fight went rather badly and Bénes and Cruchon actually seemed to get along well. Finally, characters can meet a lady, either through a random event (as Bénes did while on garrison duty) or during a mission (like when Cruchon met Cäcilia von Pfünz), who can be wooed according to the rules outlined in Sharp Practice.

The campaign system worked very well and has been great fun. It’s been very entertaining to watch the story develop and the characters take on a life of their own.

By now, we have acquired quite a cast:

I also have to say that I had a blast narrating the events here on the blog. Writing down the game became an integral part of the campaign experience for me. Another great thing is that Sigur also wrote reports of each game on his blog, providing a different perspective and adding to the narrative. I’m very grateful that he went into more detail regarding the scenarios and the players’ tactics and decisions. And I was always looking forward to the dialogue between the two soldiers!

There is one last game to play, the season finale. This will be a big game where Sigur and I will play together against K., who has kindly agreed to take the role of the Austrians.

Looking back, I’m a bit sad that the campaign is now coming to an end. Excluding the finale, we have played 9 games in less than four months (it could have been 10, but Capt. Bénes decided to go on garrison duty and skipped one game – I’m sure Sigur will describe what happened to him on his blog) – a great way to spend the summer! However, I think that it is actually important to have a stop condition for a campaign, as otherwise there is a danger of it just petering out from lack of enthusiasm. Better to celebrate with a big finale! Also, it’s always possible to play single scenarios with the characters or even start season 2…

I have also been thinking about publishing the campaign so that other players can try their hand at collecting honour and glory. But I’m not sure if I should keep the focus on the 1809 campaign or if I should make a generic campaign system out of it. Perhaps I should gauge interest first… so if you are interested at all, please let me know!

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