1492 (ue01)

by Edwin Godfrey

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In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that he was to discover the Americas, and that other explorations were gradually to reveal the map of the continent as we know it. But to the men of that time the world might have turned out in almost any form, and all kinds of possibilities lay beyond the horizon, such as a quick route to Cathay, the land of Eldorado, the city of Atlantis or the kingdom of Prester John. Indeed, medieval scholars invented a highly sophisticated pantheon of monsters and creatures that were said to inhabit the unexplored lands. 

This variant seeks to recreate the uncertainty of the times when the world was largely unknown, by making the majority, of the playing board unknown to the players, who have to ‘discover’ it gradually like the early explorers. It is hoped that this will produce a combination of the merits of Diplomacy with some of the adventure of games such as Dungeons and Dragons. 

0. The rules of Diplomacy apply unless otherwise stated. 

1. The players represent the major maritime powers of Western Europe, and their units and supply centres at the start of the game are as follows: 

England: F Plymouth; F Liverpool (wc); A London

France: F Brest; F Bordeaux; A Paris

Portugal: F Lisbon; F Oporto; A Coimbra

Spain: F Cadiz; F Bilbao; A Madrid 

2. The first move is designated as Spring 1492, and the game continues in Spring and Autumn moves as in regular Diplomacy. 

3. The map attached to these rules represents the Known World at the, start of the game. However, this is only part of the complete playing board. Before the start, the GM secretly devises his own imaginary map of the rest of the World, which connects on all sides with the Known World, but need not have any resemblance to the real world as we know it. There should be a suitable balance of land and sea areas, with islands and continents to be discovered, and a sufficient sprinkling of supply centres. Some of the supply centres may be occupied by native armies, which have to be overcome before the centre can be occupied. It is suggested that the world should be “cylindrical” i.e. that the eastern and western edges of the board should connect, with impassable barriers of ice to the north and south, but a fIat earth or any other design is not ruled out. The GM may incorporate ideas of his own into his own design, so long as he gives sufficient information to the players when they encounter them. 

4. When any of a player’s units enter an area on the edge of The Known World or outside the Known World, the GM privately notifies that player of the number and shape of all adjacent areas, whether they are land or sea, whether they contain a supply centre and whether they contain any foreign units. Players may of course pass on information to each other, or mislead the other players with false maps. 

5. A player who is the first to discover an area in this way may give it an appropriate name, which will be used in the game thereafter. If more than one player chooses a name, the GM selects the best. Failing this, the GM may choose a name. If a player subsequently conquers the area he may rename it. 

6. Moves are reported in the game reports only to the extent that they take place within the Known World. Surposing that ABC and DEF are the names of off-board areas, some examples of orders end their reporting might be as follows: 

Order: F(ABC) StandReport: F(OB)
Order: F(ABC) – DEFReport: F(OB)
Order: F(SAO) – ABCReport: F(SAO)-OB
Order: F(ABC) – SAOReport: F(OB)-SAO
Order: F(SAO) S F(ABC)-DEFReport: F(SAO) S F(OB)

However, if an area outside the Known World has been discovered by all the players, moves are also reported to the extent that they take place in that area. 

7. Builds take place as in regular Diplomacy. However, only the number of off-board supply centres owned by each player is reported, not their location (unless they have been discovered by all the players). 

8. The following restrictions or additions to normal movement apply: 

(a) The areas of the Known World not divided into named provinces (designated as Rest of Europe) are impassable. 

(b) A player’s units may not enter the home territories of another player. 

(c) Sea areas in the Known World (but not outside it) may contain any number of fleets. 

The effect of these rules is that conflicts may only take place outside the Known World or in the named land areas at the edge of the Known World. (Colonial wars frequently took place without involving a European conflagration.) However, units within the Known World may give support to units moving or standing in combat areas. 

9. Fleets have the following additional capabilities: 

(a) On leaving a home supply centre, a fleet has the option of moving either one or two spaces (cf. the pawn in chess) so long as the move does not take it outside the Known World. Only those unknown areas which are adjacent to the fleet at the end of its move are disclosed to the player concerned. This rule (combined with rule 8(c) above) gives the players a chance to explore in directions other than those opposite to their home territories. 

(b) Fleets may move directly from EMS to BLA and vice versa. 

10. For combined operations of armies and fleets, the same rules apply as in the Abstraction variant. See the A/F rules module at the end of these rules. 

11. (a) Any native armies which the GM places in supply centres will not, unless the GM specifies otherwise, have any movement capability and if they are dislodged. they will be removed from the Board. 

(b) (Optional rule) A native army which is dislodged is transformed into a treasure unit (T) with no offensive of defensive strength, which may be transported by an army or a fleet. A treasure unit may be passed from one army or fleet to another by the first unit leaving the relevant space without the T unit, and the second unit occupying the space. Moving units should specify whether they are transporting the treasure. Units of another power may capture a treasure unit either by occupying the space where its previous holder has left it or by annihilating the unit transporting it If a player succeeds in transporting a treasure unit back to one of his home centres, the unit is removed from the board, but the player concerned is thereafter entitled to an additional build over and above his total supply centre count. 

12. The game is won by the first player to control a majority of the off-board supply centres, the total number of which will be announced by the GM at the start of the game. 

List of Known World provinces with standard abbreviations: 

AlgAlgeriaLplLiverpoolBLABlack Sea
ArcArcticMadMadridBOBBay of Biscay
BilBilbaoNorMoroccoCELCeltic Sea
BerBordeauxOpoOportoCMSCentral Med. Sea
BreBrestParParisEMSEastern Med. Sea
CadCadizPerPersiaENGEnglish Channel
CauCaucasusPlyPlymouthMAOMid Atlantic Ocean
CoiCoimbraSyrSyriaMAONorth Atlantic Ocean
EgyEgyptTarTartaryNTHNorth Sea
LibLibyaTunTunisiaNWGNorwegian Sea
LisLisbon  SAOSouth Atlantic Ocean
LonLondonBARBarents SeaWMSWestern Med. Sea