War in A1-0
“The art of war is of vital importance to the State.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
So, you want to use the map’s movable border mechanics? Is your nation going on a quest to dominate the Sector or do you want to spice up the canon? Well then this section of the guide is made for you! The section aims to suggest how you should tell and organize wars within the A1-0 canon. We try to keep things semi-realistic and this put together with the sheer astronomical size of our canon - even if it isn’t galactic - will get us some numbers that can sometimes only be described as pretty bonkers. Do please keep in mind that this section is full of suggestions of my own and others and shouldn’t be interpreted as the end all be all rules of how to fight in this canon.
In many ways wars are inevitable, even in the far distant future. While war over basic resources would likely become a thing of the past, there are still exotic resources out there which may be fought over. Ideologies as well can clash with one another even on this scale, but even accidents can happen. Nations like our own canon’s Stoinian Star Kingdom and Treecuu Star Empire have a clear belief that the stars are theirs and their order superior. This sometimes brings them in situations where they have to bring boots on the ground. Be it the annexation of Yim-Lootuu III or a Stoinian crusade, this canon has sheen bloodshed and will continue to do so. So let’s at least do it in style!
“Every war is different. Every war is the same.”
— Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jarhead
While wars have been fought across history, it’s likely they will return in the future. A1-0 is no different. The important difference here is that these wars are on a much larger scale. For better or for worse, this guide will explain what to take into account for. This canon may not be on a galactic scale, but it sure will seem so once you go into the details. Of course, if you’re more story driven, you don’t need to get drowned into the tons of details of this guide. Take a few and incorporate them in your story while keeping the other details fairly vague.
Another important aspect of RP’ing wars is the OOC aspect. All parties involved MUST agree to this. That’s the rule that ensures everyone still has their fun. However, I believe that before you agree to have a war, you should also sit down with your co-writer and decide on the length and outcome of the war. Given the immense setting we’re playing in, every singly war has the potential to go on for decades due to the vast accessibility of common resources. Take the different times for FTL and you might even look at longer periods. In general, I advise to band together to outline what the main story will be about and what exactly it will entail. Will it be a short misunderstanding or a large skirmish like the Rascal Incident and the Venterran Incursion from this canon? Or is your nation out for xeno blood to exterminate all other sapient life in their eternal quests? These are the important outlines you should determine with the other players before you fire your first shot.
“In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Now why would your nation decide to go to war? Has the other star nation a rare resources, committed an act against sapience or has it assassinated your head of government causing a complete retaliation from your star nation? War is a very serious business and it needs a very serious reason to start it. So please, don’t go around declaring war because the other star nation has a nice planet you want or they insulted your government. These are not proportionate responses to such actions. Though we can look into what your nation might want to achieve in its interstellar wars. Usually the goal of a war is a combination of the categories down below. When that goal is set, your star nation should do as much as possible as to reach that goal with as minimal losses.
Perhaps your star nation finds itself clashing with the ideology of another star nation. After years of tensions and mistrust, a boiling point has been achieved. Instead of outright conquering the entire enemy star nation, one can impose its ideology on them. A forced change of government. You topple the old government to put a new one in its place. Should it be a new government amicable to your ideals? Or a change within the internal politics of the enemy nation? Or is this merely the beginning of decades of further infighting? Together you can decide on an outcome that works for both players without having to resort to more tense OOC negotiations.
Vassalizing another star nation could be an extremely productive opportunity. You could force them to give you their resources while you continue to interfere in their politics. They become subservient to you and bound to your will. Although various agreements can be put in place that define the exact nature of the agreement. You should also take into consideration how the subjugated nation will react to their new overlords. Will they accept their gifts or be oppressed? If the latter, how long until their first rebellion? Or are they brought back to a primitive feudal system to prevent any large scale rebellion?
Perhaps the most straight forward cause for a war is expansionism. Your nation believes for whatever reason that the enemy’s star nation has territory that must now belong to yours. Is it just one immensely valuable star system or an entire quadrant? Your star nation should determine what it wants and if things go south, what they can still attain despite the setbacks.
An extreme call for war is extermination. Your nation believes in the total or partial extermination of the enemy star nation. One should consider whether they want to eliminate the entire ideal of the enemy star nation, just sections from it or just even one species. Either way, these conflicts usually become total wars as one’s existence is put in danger and Darwinism kicks in to defend itself. Whatever your goal, the progress of achieving it won’t be pretty.
Is your enemy star nation and affluent power in the canon, considered the paramount of Sector? Well perhaps it’s time to show that times have changed. You wish to defeat them and show the astropolitical change that your nation is superior to the target nation. By merely defeating them you have shown your prowess, but will it last? Won’t this be a call for revenge or even lower your own standing in the Sector’s community. All of it remains fairly uncertain and if one succeeds to humiliate another star nation, perhaps they should also look on how to guarantee that the defeated power remains in its lesser position.
Despite the goal of your war, it has perhaps gone on for too much and your star nation’s people have grown tired of it. Unwilling to pay for the continuous war, your military and government are put under pressure. Will they be able to bolster the populace back into line or shall they face open internal rebellion to put an end to the war? While looking to external affairs, one must still keep an eye on its internal ones.
“The control of a large force is the same in principle as the control of a few men; it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Modern day militaries utilize complex systems to maintain their operations. A clearly defined hierarchy is nearly sacrosanct to any military. Should we extrapolate the progress from a Roman Legion to today’s US military, we can only conclude that future militaries, including A1-0’s setting, will only become even more complex. This section is merely a suggestion on what things you should consider when trying to figure out your star nation’s military. Just like anything else in this guide, you don’t need to figure out every single detail.
“Are you doing your part?”
— Starship Troopers Announcer, Starship Troopers (film)
Recruitment is one of the most important aspects of your military. It guarantees a flow of fresh soldiers ready to defend or expand your star nation. The usage of your military should also be reflected in its recruitment. After all, soldiers will start to question themselves if they signed up to protect their own world if they’re suddenly sent out to invade primitives and exterminate them. You can about recruitment just like in the real world, mandatory or voluntary service. Or you can even find your own creative solution to your star nation. For the Stoinian Star Kingdom for example, there’s a mandatory military training in schools that instills patriotism, yet there’s no mandatory service time. Thus the Star Kingdom is always ready and trained to fight off in case of invasion without having the need of a large military. This aspect of the military is just a big a blank canvas like any other.
Military Command Structure
“There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
One of the most important elements of a military is its command structure and their operations. The US has multiple branches, US Coast Guard, Navy, Marine, Army, Air Force, Space Force. All with clearly defined operations and mandate. The importance of a clear structure is needed to prevent inter branch rivalries. One such example is the rivalry between the Japanese Imperial Navy and Army during World War II as they fought each other internally over command of Japanese aircraft for their usage. You see, a separate Japanese Air Force didn’t exist yet and both branches claimed the right to aircraft operations. Needless to say this brought only inefficiency during their operations. A more efficient example is how the US Navy operates their own aviation program for their carrier groups without needing to rely on the US Air Force. These situations are examples on how to create tension and efficiency within your own military.
Though it should also be noted that with your star nations holding meany planets, there might arise planetary armed forces aside from the interstellar nation armed forces. Or perhaps only planetary armed forces are allowed due to a political reason of not empowering the state. A very interesting look is what the Templin Institute’s Antares Confederacy designed for their armed forces. The Antares Confederacy is a shining example on how to write conflicts and contradictions within your military as well as your star nation.
Unit Structure & Composition
“The Roman legions were formed in the first instance of citizen soldiers, who yet had been made to submit to a rigid discipline, and to feel that in that submission lay their strength.”
— Goldwin Smith
Aside from command structure we should also talk about the unit structure and their composition. This goes hand in hand with your command structure and outlines the hierarchy of your military units & composition. A classic example is how one Roman Legion (Caesar’s time) consists of 10 cohorts with each 6 centuries of 80 men. Today, this structure has grown larger with Battalions to Army Groups adapted to the needs of larger military operations. While the modern military structures serve as a good foundational basis, you’re likely going to need to expand a bit further to suit the needs of your vast star nation. Or not if you want to create further tensions. You should put some consideration as to how large each unit and their composition will be. You can’t have a Captain be in charge of operations of today’s combined military. The size of each unit is also an important factor on its efficiency as well as their ability to operate independently from battle plans.
Of course one can also argue if such large forces don’t reach a limit of effectiveness with planetary theaters. What good is Supreme Ultimate Grand Marshal who makes battle plans? Where would the flexibility be for the other commanders beneath him who have a much clearer vision on what’s happening with their troops. I’d actually argue that an Army Officer really should only command between 50 to 150 million troops. That number should give you enough manpower to fight over an entire planet, but the criticism still remains over what the Supreme Commander of such a high position actually serves so far from the most effective position for making battle decisions to their troops. So please be careful with creating military ranks just for the sake of it. You don’t need 12 ranks of flag officers in your Armed Forces, limit them to operations on a single planet and you should be fine.
“You served too long under Lord Vader, Captain. I have no qualms about accepting a useful idea merely because it wasn’t my own. My position and ego are not at stake here.”
— Grand Admiral Thrawn, Heir to the Empire
Your star nation’s military will be more massive than the entire history of armed forces combined. That’s how massive this setting truly is. One of the most important aspects of any military is its support. Luckily, I don’t think you should be afraid over resources as you can mine asteroids in all of your star systems. You’ll have an abundance of common resources at your disposal. Hence why your military-industrial complex would be able to fuel your war efforts fairly easily.
Robots can be especially helpful to operate many of the more dangerous operations for your military and focuses on logistics with your manpower ready at arms. Or you can go the Star Wars route and make and army entirely out of droids. Whatever path you choose, be sure to incorporate the politics of your star nation as well. Do they have laws against artificial intelligence? Are they treated equally? As well as how your military officers interact with one another. Do they operate alongside each other with extensive communication, or is the military festered with political rivalries between officers that inhibit smooth operations like the Galactic Empire in Star Wars or the Klingon Empire in Star Trek?
“All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Doctrines also form the characteristics on how your military is run and how they act. Are they more cautious & preventive in their approach or as merciless on the battlefield as Gen. Patton. Each branch can have their own doctrine that outlines their role in the combined Armed Forces. From how planetary invasions and battle plans are conducted to how discipline is maintained or even the usage of animals, all these things take up the form of your star nation’s military doctrines. Or even to prevent technological understanding by the enemy and prevention of valuable information like Halo’s Cole Protocol. Who knows, maybe you can come up with a few creative ideas from yourself.
“A good navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guarantee of peace.”
— U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt
Your space navy is the first line of defence of your star nation. It protects your territory and is of the utmost essence to your survival. You can take a great deal of inspiration from real world navies to form a good basis, but I think you should also take a look at a great video made by the Templin Institute on how you could build up your space navy. It’s a great overview and a great source of inspiration.
Naval Engineering & Logistics
“Admiral, we have just finished eighteen months redesigning and refitting the Enterprise. How in the name of hell do they expect me to have her ready in twelve hours?!”
— Captain Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, Star Trek: The Motion Picture
As I mentioned before, common resources are practically infinite if you mine the asteroids in all of your star systems. Through orbital or planetary mining factories you’ll be able to construct the necessary materials for your starships. Though, we must adapt our ships to space as well. With space, a new set of rules comes as well. Typically we have three categories when it comes to space: realistic, moderate or space fantasy. One can go and build a space navy based on our current understanding of the universe like in Babylon 5 & the Expanse or treat space as something new like Star Wars where not all rules seem to apply. Either way, our canon works with both settings. We just assume everything is possible and assume that space fantasy style naval warfare to be possible due to more advanced engines. What you should instead focus on is how sturdy your ship is. Do they easily break or are they like flying fortresses? Probably the latter, as you invest millions if not billions into their construction and want your crew protected from the vacuum of space. I advise you take a look to the video on Space Design by the great sci-fi channel Isaac Arthur or an in depth look on Halo’s Pillar of Autumn by Generation Films to get a real grasp on how spaceships should be build and how tough they should be. let alone the infrastructure that serves to support these ships through harbours and other space stations.
Ship to Ship Combat
“Every five seconds, the main gun of an Everest-class dreadnought accelerates one to 1.3 percent of light speed. It impacts with the force of a 38-kiloton bomb. That is three times the yield of the city-buster dropped on Hiroshima back on Earth. That means Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son-of-a-bitch in space.”
— Gunnery Chief, Mass Effect 2
Okay, now that we’ve taken a look on how these warships should be built, we’re going to look as to how they fight. Are they made for close range or long range warfare. Ships in Halo & Mass Effect use large scale rail guns from afar as their primary source to deal damage, while Star Wars or Star Trek usually need to be within visual range. Though in Star Trek Canon, there was a war between Earth and the Romulan Star Empire where neither side knew how the others looked, only for it to be revealed in the TOS that they were of Vulcan descent. This is a reflection of long range combat in space. Another great example is the Honorverse where ships-of-the-line have become ships-of-the-wall because of the massive gravitational shielding used by ships. Whatever the scenario, you should first and foremost focus on the WRITING! What good is your ships background if the reader can’t comprehend what’s going on? Now as we’ve discussed, your space navy is going to be huge and you’ll probably tend to try to write large scale battles. These are difficult to pull off and the readers usually gets lost in them. Instead you should focus on one ship or a fleet at maximum. Why? Well, I’ll let the great spaceship channel Spacedock explain in his video. It’s also important to remember that your space battles shouldn’t last mere seconds or minutes like in most sci-fi settings. Would you really want ships worth millions to be evaporated in an instant? If so why would you even invest so much money in them? Hence why I’m a strong proponent of making battles last quite a while if there’s an even playing field.
Ground Naval Combat
“A ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons.”
— Admiral David D. Porter
Ground naval combat? What exactly is that? Well, it’s as simple as boarding actions. The Templin Institute did another great video debating this very topic which is definitely worth a look. My take is that your space ships probably shouldn’t carry many troops designated for this job. That’s on a regular basis, but perhaps your mission is different and could use some extra troops for ground actions or actually relies on it to win battles. One interesting thing you can do is that at first you space navy doesn’t use ground troops on their ships, but as they go to war and the enemy engages in heavy boarding actions like the Venterran Federation likes to do in this canon, then perhaps you should incorporate a garrison on your ships. After all, a captured ship is a loss and security threat. Like many things military, it all depends on the situation.
“Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?”
— Sergeant Major Daniel Daly at the Battle of Belleau Wood
So now that we’ve talked about naval warfare, let’s talk about the grunts and the boots on the ground. Despite what you might think, you’re probably still going to need them. So get your gear soldier, we’re going planetside!
Armoury & Logistics
“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.”
— General Robert H. Barrow
With technology comes innovation and your ground forces’ military hardware should reflect that. Armoury has to adapt to future needs as well. If you really want to delve into designing your tanks and what not, be sure to check this video by the Templin Institute. Now another idea instead of tanks is that of a battlemech on which the Templin Institute has another video debating it. If you want to use battlemechs, I strongly suggest you watch their video so that you may use them in a most realistic fashion. For all intents and purposes you are free to use anything, I remember FiHami (an old RP’er) mentioning how their Armed Forces had armoured birds (main species) mounted with claws and flamethrowers. This is yet another blank canvas for you to fill.
Though with the tasks of the ground forces being expanded to sea and air, it will also be interesting how your star nation builds up their army command structure. Will the Air Force be a separate branch on its own or a sub-branch of the Army or perhaps something else entirely?
“Troopers! We are green, and very, very mean!”
— Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck, Halo 3: ODST
If space is considered a sea, than planets form the ground. You’re going to have to launch your futuristic version of D-Day. Only 1000x times more complex. These operations are full of logistical challenges and many things can go wrong. Your dropship troopers are way of course with half of them being forced to take to steep an orbital drop and are burnt in the atmosphere or find themselves outgunned in their positions. Once again I refer to the Templin Institute for a well built video discussing the aspects of a planetary invasion or to the legend that is Isaac Arthur. While you might think that you should merely bomb the place into submission, would that be accepted by the international community? It could equate to a modern nuking of a city. You’re going to need to take the escalation ladder into consideration here.
“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Now that you’ve won over a planet, how do you hold it? It’s one thing to conquer territory, but how do you hold it. As human history has shown, there will be resistance. Unless the species is highly submissive or made so. So don’t go around annexing an entire player’s plot as you’ll be filled with rebellions. Won’t your own troops grow sympathetic with the resistance as they would have done the same? This usually is the most humanizing aspect in warfare, but your regime might not be so kind to every species. Be sure to incorporate it in your writing as the despite the time, such experiences are timeless. Though there might be answer to that: clones. I’ll elaborate on that in the biological warfare section.
“Let’s just say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read into that what they like.”
— Sir Christopher Lee
Just like in real life, you’ll need forces that specialize in various aspects of warfare. Commando’s, rangers, cyber warfare groups are all likely still to maintain their place with more such as EVA, orbital and boarding forces to be created as your military develops with new technologies. How special you make them or their equipment is up to you, but keep in mind that this will cost you. Be it every life that is lost or the hardware that they use. They are special forces for a reason and not your main grunts. Use their mysticism to their advantage.
Intelligence & Fog of War
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Just like in the real world, war is an art of deception. Fog of war is even greater as we know nothing when making contact with new species. Keep in mind that universal translators will fail in certain situations and writing stories without them can at times be even more interesting. The aforementioned Cole Protocol from the Halo universe is a clear example of maintaining secrets from the enemy. By destroying your ships or at the very least wipe off all of your ship’s data, the enemy can’t use your crucial information nor your technology. Keeping your enemy in the mist is always a good goal. Even more so by not allowing them to see you as a species. The visual communication like on a Star Trek ship is great to help humanize all species, but do all species experience that as well? After all, one can trick one’s appearance through filters and such. If your species or star nation is highly elusive and secretive, they likely will go through great lengths to maintain a mystery surrounding all aspects of their civilizations.
The same can be applied with your star nation’s intelligence gathering. Can they track all the enemy’s ships or is their FTL drive unlike anything they have seen and prevents them from tracking them? All while their channels are encrypted and your intelligence groups will take months if not years to fully crack a message to be then translated over even more months. Every bit of intelligence is key in the astropolitics of A1-0. The Stoinian Star Kingdom gladly showed its history of strife against other species. This gave the intended result with the Treecuu who got the message to respect their authority while the Ryccians were appalled. The information you give away defines what A1-0 knows about you and what they see in your star nation.
“Pesticides came about after the first world war. Some brainy petrochemical money maker said, 'Hey, that mustard gas worked great on people, maybe we could dilute it down and spray it on our crops to deal with pests.”
— Woody Harrelson
A more controversial aspect in warfare is that of biological warfare. As regimes use chemical or biological weapons, others shun them. With future technology, these options will only increase. How will your star nation use them however? If at all? The most likely application is through genetic engineering.
Biological Weapons, Genetic Engineering, Supersoldiers & Cloning
“Your mistake is seeing Spartans as military hardware. My Spartans are humanity’s next step, our destiny as a species. Do not underestimate them. But most of all, do not underestimate… him.”
— Dr. Catherine Halsey, Halo 5: Guardians
Genetic engineering has been used to augment soldiers in sci-fi. Most well known examples are the Spartans from Halo and the clones from Star Wars. But how does your society view them? Are they few and far between to the point of myth. Or as the Star Trek TNG episode The Hunted pointed out, the government might actually become fearful of them. In all these circumstances, your star nation should hold an internal debate on the ethics behind it just like in real life. Do they embrace or shun it? Or are they forced to turn to such drastic measures because of a deadly war? Or is it just business to them? Perhaps a more sinister plan is to stample the nerves of an entire species, take away their emotions and force them on the battlefield? Whatever the choice, it likely would become a common topic for debates.
In addition one could also create viruses or diseases to target a specific genome against clones, or a species. The Star Trek DS9 episode The Quickening, the Dominion carefully spread a disease that prevents a whole species to grow old. Thus their civilization is stunted and regresses into a more primitive form. This is a perfect alternative to just wiping out a species outright. Though again, would your star nation have the guts to do so?
With clones, I’d also like t point out that real life has disproved the commonly accepted concept that all clones look the same. We’re only talking about a genetic level here, but one could also argue that with technology comes the control of growth environment that would allow something like that to happen. So you can go either way on these paths. Another interesting aspect is the usage of clone armies. I think I agree with the points addressed the YouTube channel generation Tech that discusses why clone armies would make the best occupation forces.