Dux Britanniarum in the 15th century

Close ranks!!

What follows are my rule changes to bring my games forward almost a thousand year to the late medieval era. I play these rules with my Wars of the Roses era figures but, of course, they will work for the Hundred Years War and other battles of that period.
I have made minimal changes to the rules themselves, only really changing the Fate deck and adding a special rule here and there to reflect different weapons. Jim Hale has done a campaign system for feuding during the 15th century (arlequinsworld) and I also use his Fate Cards, so a lot of work is actually his.
You will need a copy of Dux Britanniarum to understand what I’m going on about below.

Battle rules

Troop types

The troops function exactly the same, except for a name change; elites become Men-at-arms (or equivalent, such as gen-d’arme in French), warriors become soldiers and levy becomes militia. Other than the name there is nothing new.

Close ranks

As in DB, groups may form Shieldwall, called Close Ranks here. It functions exactly the same except it does not negate the first kill from shooting. All troops can close ranks, but remember that if you use the starter forces the ‘Saxons’ will have an advantage if they too can close ranks (to keep things balanced I say they cannot close ranks unless both forces contain militia).
Only melee troops can close ranks, missile armed troops cannot.


In the Late Middle Ages there are lots more missile armed troops, mostly foot but sometimes mounted. To cater this, missile weapons are not only limited to harassing troops. Instead, any troops may carry bows/crossbows… Most of the time this will be soldiers or milita, but men-at-arms can carry them too in some cases (English household archers in Jim’s Lords of War campaign for example).
Bows function exactly the same as in DB. I use to treat crossbows the same too, but found it didn’t reflect the differences between the two weapons that would be more important during smaller skirmishes were reloading a crossbow could be the difference between life and death. So, crossbows must spend a turn stationary to reload their weapons before they can fire again, but they can re-roll 1’s on the effects table to represent their hitting power.
Handguns can be treated as crossbows. To represent the physiological effect of these weapons (the noise!), I lowered the score to cause Shock on the target by one (so soldiers will get a point of Shock on a 3-5, kill on a 6) but this is still being tested. Jim suggested that handguns have a -1 to hit at long range, and +1 on the effects table at close range.

I also allowed my missile troops to shoot at longer ranges by adding an extreme range band. For bows and crossbows the range is increased to 36 inches, but over 24 inches adds another -1 penalty, meaning you need a 6 to hit. I added this because I thought 24 inches was a bit short.
You could alternately extend the range to 30 inches (short range at 15 inches), with perhaps extreme range at about 45 inches, or just stopping at 30 inches.

Note: Missile armed troops can fire and evade charging enemies like harassing troops, but they may stand and fight, and may charge themselves. Other than not being able to close ranks, they have no penalties in combat, as most archers at this time were armed to fight in close combat as well as from a distance.


A couple of suggestions if you field pavise bearing crossbowmen:
-If they are pavise to place out in front of the unit (to form a wall), then these must be placed either during deployment or during play. While carrying the pavises the group moves with a -1 pip when moving, and it takes an activation to set up the wall (like changing formation). Once set up, the wall of pavises counts as an obstacle and is treated as a terrain piece in all respects. It may be dismantled and carried again by any unit as if changing formation.
-If the pavises are worn on the men’s backs, then the group will count as being in cover only when reloading. You can have them being in cover every turn, but I assume that when the crossbowmen fire they turn around so are more vulnerable. They move at -1 pip as above. Of course, if they don’t fire and are stationary they will present their shields.


Jim wrote rules for mounting and dismounting during the game. I will omit them here as I found mounting during the game unbalanced the forces, as cavalry groups were 6 men strong, too powerful if they are shock cavalry. So I decided that groups cannot mount and dismount during the game. Cavalry then fight in the usual 4 men groups, normally the men-at-arms but could also be soldiers (French coustilliers spring to mind).
Missile armed cavalry can fire mounted. They will be armed with light crossbows as bows cannot (usually) be fired mounted (it’s arguable, yes, but for the game let’s say they can’t). If the until moves then the range is halved, but if the group is stationary then they may fire at full range.

Fate Deck

For explanations on what the cards do, go over to Jim’s blog and download the definitions (fate cards for wars of roses dux).
Bows and arrows of outrageous fortune, 1
As fit for worm meat as any, 1
I fathom not your intent, 2
I thought you packed them, 2
Treachery! Treachery!, 2
Well I thought that went well, 2
That’s another fine mess you got me into!, 1
Now his dad, he was a proper lord, 1
Look out milord!, 1
I say!, 1

The rest of the deck is used as normal, with some name changes (carpe diem becomes For God! for example). There are some other cards that I use from time to time (the Cunning Plan cards) but not in every game. Feel free to add/remove cards or change the number in the deck.

Below is a list of some of the posts where i talk about using DB for this time, including my first career ideas for a Bernard Cornwell esque idea where a band of (possibly English) mercenaries or routiers take a lightly defended castle in the French countryside and begin raiding the surrouding villages. This would be ideal for the time after Crecy (mid 14th century).

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