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Notes from the Designer #23

The Scenarios: Revolt in the Provinces, 275 BC

From the Buddhist narratives Divyavadana, it is related that Chandragupta’s grandson Ashoka, while proconsul of Takshashila, was commissioned by his father Bindusara with the task of restoring order during a popular revolt against “wicked officials” (i.e. high-handed oppression by local ministers). The “official” history takes pains to reassure that the people were not opposed to the “Kumara [prince] or even king Bindusara.”

Certainly the victor writes history, and given the autocratic nature of the Mauryan state machinery, we opt to put a more cynical (and interesting in game terms), but we like to believe realistic, twist to the officially approved propaganda of the Divyaāvadana. In our version, the aging Chanakya, as viceroy of Takshashila, is the one faced with an uprising by the city’s merchant class. Chanakya’s forces occupy a portion of the city; the “rebel” forces – a coalition of Sreni – occupy part of the city, and its gates and the roads leading to it. Ashoka, with a force of Maula, must rescue the beleaguered Chanakya.

The Combatants: Chanakya is holed up in the center of the city, controlling the Palace, Temple, and the western gate. Arrayed against him is a coalition of Guild militias who occupy northern and southern districts of the city as well as the surrounding countryside. On its way is the Mauryan relief force commanded by Ashoka with Subandhu, equipped with Sarvatobhadra siege artillery.

The identity of the “wicked officials” is not known. We are assuming here that neither Maula nor Bhrta would have been involved; the former due to their loyalty to the imperial throne, and the latter because they were not in the employ of local magistrates. So we’re allowing the local officials to use their own corporate levies – the “Guilds” – as their troops.

The Battlefield: The city of Takshashila.

Special Features: This scenario is unusual in that the Rebels’ victory conditions are to kill Chanakya or force him from the city. Tensions is high for both players – Chanakya must hold on long enough to be rescued by Ashoka, while the Rebels must balance their limited forces between two competing priorities … besieging Chanakya inside the city, and holding back the Mauryan relief force outside it.

Next time: The Scenarios – Suppression of the Khashas.

Until then, please visit the Chandragupta Forum for the latest news and discussion …