What is Chainmail?

“You think your people will be free? You think you have escaped me? You mortals will have nothing but war, not a moment of peace until a new God of War rises to replace me.” Discuss the Sundered Empire featured in the Chainmail campaign setting, as it relates to pen & paper RPGs, here.

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Angel Tarragon
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What is Chainmail?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:24 pm

I am not completely aware of what Chainmail is, but I have the thought that it is a wargame expansion for Greyhawk. How far off am I?

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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by night_druid » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:29 pm

Chainmail was the precursor for Dungeons & Dragons, at about 1974-ish or so. Around the 3e era, they resurrected the name for a wargame set in far western Greyhawk.
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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:02 pm

night_druid wrote:Around the 3e era, they resurrected the name for a wargame set in far western Greyhawk.
That's what this Chainmail is.

It is a combat game that uses D&D miniatures, but it had it's own campaign setting. Like a lot of core-3.0 products, Chainmail was connected to Greyhawk/Oerth, but in the case of Chainmail, the background is a realm in chaos (with warbands constantly fighting). I suppose they could have set it in the Greyhawk wars, but then they would have had to have used specific miniatures and factions from the Flanaess.

Instead they set it in Western Oerik (basically the other end of the same continent the City of Greyhawk is located on) and created a Sundered Empire, with several factions.

There is a dead war god, called Stratis, who cursed this end of Oerik and gave everyone a battle-lust that makes them want to fight each other (leaders can resist this battle-lust - minions can not). Stratis also threw down a bunch of artifacts that everyone is struggling to collect first. (It is thought that the first person to get hold of all the artefacts will become the replacement war god. The big factions all want someone from their race to be the next wargod.)

The fluff-to-crunch ratio in Chainmail products is pretty low compared to tabletop campaign settings, but there is a fair amount of campaign setting contnt. Chris Pramas has played tabletop games in the Sundered Empire.
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Angel Tarragon
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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:27 pm

Okay, I have no interest in using Oerth as a wargame setting. As per Sundered Empire, how much fluff is there on it and which supplements are the best go to resources for that.

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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:34 pm

Angel Tarragon wrote:Okay, I have no interest in using Oerth as a wargame setting.
Me neither. I want to use it for tabletop gaming.
Angel Tarragon wrote:As per Sundered Empire, how much fluff is there on it and which supplements are the best go to resources for that.
The amount of fluff is low (as Icarus told me recently, before I bought three of the Chainmail books.

However, I think it is also possible to infer some details from "fluffy crunch" material (like the Hissing Pools), so I've been looking at the bits that do not seem to be so obviously full of background details, to see if there are a few hidden gems in them.

There are also some WotC articles about Chainmail. Some of those will help you if you are interested in learning more about the Sundered Empire.
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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by Zeromaru X » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:29 am

I was about to ask the same question, so thanks for the answers :D

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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:52 am

Zeromaru X wrote:I was about to ask the same question, so thanks for the answers :D
It's nice to be able to help you...for a change. :)

Do feel free to look around and ask any other questions you might have. (Start new topics, if it helps.)
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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by Zeromaru X » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:24 pm

What makes Chainmail unique compared with "mainstream" Greyhawk? Outside the fact that is a wargame.

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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by ripvanwormer » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:30 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:What makes Chainmail unique compared with "mainstream" Greyhawk? Outside the fact that is a wargame.
The central premise is that a god of war has died and various factions are competing to assemble his weapons and become his heir. Also the local dwarves are Communists.

Other than that, it's a very generic 3e-style D&D setting.

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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Aug 21, 2016 11:44 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Zeromaru X wrote:What makes Chainmail unique compared with "mainstream" Greyhawk? Outside the fact that is a wargame.
The central premise is that a god of war has died and various factions are competing to assemble his weapons and become his heir. Also the local dwarves are Communists.

Other than that, it's a very generic 3e-style D&D setting.
There is something else. Something that has been bugging me for some time.

Chainmail has this "Command"/"Out of Command" thing going on, where the death of Stratis has caused low-level troops to rush off to fight the closest enemy.

I've just started a: What are the D&D rules for "Command"? topic for this, as the Battle Sheets for minis that do have "Command" do not seem to give any sort of explanation for why they are different to the Battle Sheets for the minis that lack "Command".

I actually think this is one of the major defining characteristics of the setting. It explains why big wars don't work any more. But I think that some people would be tempted to hand-wave this away, when running tabletop games.
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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by Havard » Sun Aug 21, 2016 1:12 pm

Big Mac wrote:There is something else. Something that has been bugging me for some time.

Chainmail has this "Command"/"Out of Command" thing going on, where the death of Stratis has caused low-level troops to rush off to fight the closest enemy.

I've just started a: What are the D&D rules for "Command"? topic for this, as the Battle Sheets for minis that do have "Command" do not seem to give any sort of explanation for why they are different to the Battle Sheets for the minis that lack "Command".

I actually think this is one of the major defining characteristics of the setting. It explains why big wars don't work any more. But I think that some people would be tempted to hand-wave this away, when running tabletop games.
The way it is explained in Chainmail comes off as the sort of thing that makes sense in game mechanical terms, but feels fairly out of place when you want to imagine a setting that should feel "real" enough to play a tabletop game there. One sollution could be as you say to just discard the concept. Another could be to say that the death of Stratis have resulted in any but the most disciplined soldiers to become easily overrun by bloodlust, fear and other passions once entering battle so that they will often act irrationally.

Anyway, that is my idea for an in game explanation that doesnt seem forced by game mechanics.

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Re: What is Chainmail?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Aug 21, 2016 2:14 pm

Havard wrote:
Big Mac wrote:There is something else. Something that has been bugging me for some time.

Chainmail has this "Command"/"Out of Command" thing going on, where the death of Stratis has caused low-level troops to rush off to fight the closest enemy.

I've just started a: What are the D&D rules for "Command"? topic for this, as the Battle Sheets for minis that do have "Command" do not seem to give any sort of explanation for why they are different to the Battle Sheets for the minis that lack "Command".

I actually think this is one of the major defining characteristics of the setting. It explains why big wars don't work any more. But I think that some people would be tempted to hand-wave this away, when running tabletop games.
The way it is explained in Chainmail comes off as the sort of thing that makes sense in game mechanical terms, but feels fairly out of place when you want to imagine a setting that should feel "real" enough to play a tabletop game there. One sollution could be as you say to just discard the concept. Another could be to say that the death of Stratis have resulted in any but the most disciplined soldiers to become easily overrun by bloodlust, fear and other passions once entering battle so that they will often act irrationally.

Anyway, that is my idea for an in game explanation that doesnt seem forced by game mechanics.
I'm going to try to thrash out a house rule for it, in the new topic I linked to.

It could be hand-waved, but I think it would be more fun to have low-level NPCs that go nuts during combat and higher level NPCs with "Command" who are "normal". Ignoring this iconic feature seems like a waste to me.
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