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Age of Empires Heaven » Forums » Scenario Design and Modding » Outlining a Josephus Campaign
Topic Subject:Outlining a Josephus Campaign
posted 02-08-21 01:39 AM ET (US)         
For me, one of the funnest parts of scenario design is fitting a story into the limitations or framework of the AOE Scenario Editor to create a scenario.

Josephus was probably the main 1st century Jewish governor and commander in the Galilee during the revolt against Rome. During his rule, he had some small, successful fights with another rebel, John of Gischala. Then he had some fights with the Romans and was conquered by Vespasian at Jotapata. Josephus is best known for his Antiquities of the Jews and Wars of the Jews, which together deal with Jewish history up to the end of the Jewish revolt of 66-73 AD. In particular, he wrote a passage on Jesus called the Testimonium Flavianum, and in my opinion he was a Torah-observant Christan (AKA Messianic Jew) because of his repeated allusions to Christian motifs. But most scholars would disagree that he was a Christian. So, major Story topics for the scenarios would be 1. his appointment as governor and his explanations for why he took power in his Vita (like how he wanted to defend Galilee from the rebels and maybe the Romans), 2. his allusion in section #2 below to James and other Christian motifs, 3. His reasons why he revolted from Rome (good for the Story section of a scenario where he battled Roman forces, 4. His reasons why he thinks that God allowed Jotapata to fall as he narrates in his Wars of the Jews, and 5. his dream about Vespasian, etc.

Below, I am numbering different sub-plots of Josephus' story that I could combine into a single scenario or campaign. There are a couple places that I don't have a good idea about how to turn certain battles into a scenario, and I put the parts in bold at the end of each numbered battle/section.

This map shows almost all the cities discussed below.

1. The Judean Provisional government in Jerusalem, including the son or grandson of the Biblical Nicodemus, sent Josephus to be the commander and governor in the Galilee in 66 AD. He got 70 Galilean rebels to follow him and built up the cities' defenses. (I need to reread his Wars of the Jews, but as I can tell, he built the cities through his rule.)

2. (Start of a scenario) In the city of Tiberias that his opponent John of Gischala controlled, Josephus made a speech on an elevated place, and when his enemies went to capture him, he went out through the crowd on the back of one James and sailed away to his headquarters in Tarichea. This story by the way is seen by some people as alluding to the story of James the apostle being thrown down from the Temple area and stoned, which Josephus narrates separately in his Antiquities. I could have Josephus start on a raised area and then have him flee to Tarichea. So the scenario would have to start with Josephus in that area.

3. Josephus puts guards around the edges of the city of Sepphoris and they let in an opposing captain (named Jesus) who has a small army outside, and then they capture the opponent, he promises to be loyal, and the opponent's army flees. AOE does not have a trigger to send a unit someplace like AOE2 does. I could have the captain (named Jesus) start in the middle of the city and then capture him with a priest, but there was no fighting, so it doesn't seem very interesting for a scenario unless I want to put all the events in Sepphoris in one scenario.

4. Next, Josephus was at Simonias and the Roman commander Ebutius tried fighting Josephus unsuccessfully in an area that wasn't flat, lost three people, and retreated to the city of Gibea. Ebutius wouldn't come out and fight Josephus, so Josephus raided the grain nearby at Besara. With AOE1, there is no trigger to "force move" an enemy, so I don't know how I could force an enemy army to retreat if they lose 3 people. Sometimes the AI's single units in AOE1 do retreat, but not in a clash between large groups. The best I can think of is to have a walled city (Gibea) with Roman forces in it and 3 units outside it for you to kill, and then a granary and farms farther away that you have to raid.

5. The attempted mutiny in Tarichea is not worth using.

6. Josephus built walls in Tarichea, then when there were Roman horsemen reported outside of Tiberias, people in Tiberias shouted against Tiberias. So Josephus and his supporters got on ships and sailed to Tiberias and made it look like they had a big army in their boats and Tiberias surrendered. This would be easy to use for a scenario VC (ie. just require your ships to sail near Tiberias and turn off Tiberias's ability to make a navy or towers to fight your ships)

7. Next, he talks about his building walls in cities like Gamala, Jotapata, Sepphoris, and Tiberias.

8. He goes to Chabolo and has skirmishes near Ptolemais with the Roman commander Placidus. Their two armies stayed separate and didn't fight, but there were skirmishes between small groups of their armies.

9. John's ally Jonathan's soldiers beat with clubs Josephus' supporters in Asochis. I could use Clubmen for that.

10. Josephus sets guards at the road to Jerusalem and catches John of Gischala's messengers against Josephus. Specifically, John's messengers attacked the guards. I can set John's soldiers near Josephus', so that John's soldiers attack.

11. Josephus goes to Tiberias to deal with Jonathan's mutiny there, and he has to flee. This seems redundant after #2 above.

12. (This should probably be a separate scenario from the earlier one involving Tiberias) Josephus' forces caught John's ally Jonathan trying to go to Jerusalem, and he catches Simon outside the city of Tiberias, and then he attacks Tiberias and conquers it in a battle. I can have Josephus start at peace with Simon and with the City of Tiberius as two separate AI Players and then convert Simon and then attack Tiberius. I would start with troops around Tiberias.

13. (This would have to be a separate scenario) The city of Sepphoris excluded Josephus from their city, got permission from him to build walls and admitted a garrison of Roman legions. Then Sepphoris took up arms and Josephus conquered/took the city by force. Next, Josephus has to leave Sepphoris because the Romans arrived there under Cestius. For me to make the scenario so that you take Sepphoris and then retreat, I could have Josephus conquer Sepphoris within a set period of time and then when the deadline arrived, Roman units would have to spawn so that they would naturally attack Sepphoris. My challenge with this is that the spawn function in ROCKNROR looks a bit challenging. Another option could be to have Roman reinforcements start at the edge of the map and then arrive based on the speed of their units after you've had time to capture Sepphoris and retreat. It seems that the easiest thing to do is just to make #13 end when you take Sepphoris. And I can put in a timer so that he has to take it before a certain period of time, representing the time before the Romans arrive. Historically, Josephus left the city because the Romans' main force was in the area, not because they invaded Sepphoris. Had they invaded Sepphoris before he took it, he probably wouldn't have attacked it. If I make Roman soldiers spawn or invade from the map edge, then they would naturally invade Sepphoris, whereas historically they didn't go right into the city but rather Josephus retreated when they were in the neighborhood. Nor would he have retreated before the Roman army showed up. And it wasn't like he took the city and then had to retreat right away. So the whole idea of making retreating part of the scenario doesn't seem very good.

14. (this would need to be separate from the last scenario) After leaving Sepphoris, Josephus' forces conquer the city of Garisme/Garis in a battle but leave because they feel unacquainted with the area. Next, they get beaten in a battle against Roman cavalry in a plain and have to retreat from that battle. It looks too hard to combine #13 with #14. In his Vita, he doesn't say if he attacked the Romans in the plain or the other way around. I guess it was the latter because they were retreating from Garis. I know how to make Josephus' army attack a city (Garis) and then I can give him an Objective of retreating from it. But to make a Roman army attack him while he is on his way to retreating, I think I would need to set up a practically a "wall" of passive, "Neutral" Roman soldiers on Josephus' path or route to where he would need to retreat to. But I don't know if I could really make a Passive enemy army just sit there in an open area. Maybe I would need to spawn the Roman army there instead.

15. (This would have to be separate too.)Josephus; forces coax/provoke the commander Sylla's Romans out of their base at Julias and ambush them successfully. Josephus gets injured in a riding accident and goes to Tarichea. Next, Sylla has something of a successful skirmish and retreats. I don't know how you can make the AI launch a successful attack AND make it retreat. With AOE2, you could use the triggers to have the enemy retreat if some units are killed, but even then it would be hard for this scenario because that skirmish would follow the ambush at Julias, which would create different casualty numbers. I guess you could make the skirmishing party a separate Player and have it retreat if a certain unit is lost. But it seems just best in that case to make killing certain number of that party's units a VC.

16. (This would have to be separate) Vespasian battles Josephus successfully outside Tarichea (In his Vita he says that he writes about this in Wars of the Jews). Since it was a losing battle for Josephus, the only things that I can think of for VCs are:
(A) to have Josephus be able to retreat to the edge of the map on his horse with a certain number of support troops while the rest of his army inflicts above a certain kill/loss ratio (eg. 1/2) and kill count, or
(B) to have Josephus and some of his support troops ride to the edge of the map in retreat and be able to survive within a certain deadline while his forces hold off the enemy.

17. (this would have to be a separate scenario too) Josephus' defense of Jotapata and his capture. I could have a scenario where Josephus builds the defenses. But making the scenario where they defend from the Romans is tricky. The city was surrounded by two concentric rings of walls. A big raiding or skirmishing group retreated from the Romans into the space between the two walls, but the city's defenders wouldn't let the retreating party into the city like they asked and kept them trapped between the walls, which Josephus (and the skirmishers) considered a big mistake. The Romans attacked and then slaughtered the raiders between the walls. AFter conquering the city, a woman betrayed Josephus' hiding location to the Romans and the Romans offered Josephus and his guards who were hiding in a cave to surrender, resulting in almost all his guards supposedly playing Roman Roulette, after which Josephus and his bodyguard gave themselves up.

I guess that I could have the inner walls (and part of the outer walls) be a separate AI Player, so that I control part of the raiders and the raiders can't get back inside the inner wall without declaring war on the inner wall player. And I guess that I could control some forces in the inner city. Meanwhile, my goal would be to keep Josephus alive inside the cave while two small groups of like 20 guards slaughtered each other (in Roman Roulette, also known as "the Josephus Problem"). Then Josephus could walk outside the cave and walk to the Roman side. ROCKNROR would be useful here. Either after a certain period of time or on the "unit_loss" trigger (eg. a Jotapata Gov't Center being destroyed), the Romans would change their diplomacy to ally, and then one set of the guards faced off against each other (eg. 10 pro-Josephus guards of one ally AI and 10 of another) would switch to enemy against Josephus and fight each other. The problem with the Unit Loss trigger being used is that I might just be able to have my own units destroy it instead of waiting for Roman AI units to do so. The timer trigger idea seems better because I would be holding off the Romans so that Josephus could hide.

I have some more detailed notes on Josephus' story that I used for the outline above, and you can read them here if you are interested:
I think in the first scenario that I would make out of this, I would put 2,6,7 (building Tiberias' walls after a ROCKNROR timing trigger set my opponents in Tiberias to ally with me after I escaped from Tiberias in #2),9, and 10 in it.

[This message has been edited by rakovsky (edited 02-09-2021 @ 00:07 AM).]

Champion of AoEH
(id: Fruktfisk)
posted 02-20-21 03:20 PM ET (US)     1 / 3       
That's a pretty solid outline. Fitting all of it inside a couple of scenarios would be cool, but requires some careful planning so that the player can't do things in the wrong order. Making it a set of multiple scenarios is the easier option for sure. Still for some of the directly following battles I think that starting with an army, fighting the first battle, getting some Gaia reinforcements and moving on to the next fight could be a good formula for you.

In general I find it interesting how you treat campaigns way more like a "history simulation" rather than consider what makes for challening gameplay for the player. With some careful balancing however I think you should be able to combine the two here if you desire to.

Yeah, while there are some retreat parameters in the .per file the reality of it is rather clumsy and you'll struggle to get anything to work. Maybe if you use a ranged unit for Ebutius you could force the computer inside the walls as it tries to avoid melee combat. Still it will probably be tricky and require the player to lose the units doing the "pushing" as the computer otherwise will chase you back out of the walls again.

The retreat objective seems like a good take on the losing battle. If it's a fixed force for the player you could always use the Kill Count VC for the computer to create an objective like "Josephus and 4 of his men must survive the retreat".

Good luck with your porject Rakovsky.

//The warrior of Isola

"I lack quotes that demonstrate Humor Intelligence or anything about me."

Cleidopus gloriamaris
posted 02-21-21 01:26 PM ET (US)     2 / 3       
That's a good suggestion about reinforcements and Gaia units, because the first time that I thought about this, I thought about having a couple battles going on at once, like event number 8 as well as one of the other events, as soon as the scenario starts. But based on your suggestion, I could have one of the events start at the beginning and then the player either finds gaia units or trains the units and then sends them to start another event like number 8. The scenario gets a lot more interesting when you combine events and actions and activities like that, instead of having only one event.
posted 02-22-21 05:43 PM ET (US)     3 / 3       
Planning the scenarios is one of my favorite parts of Scenario design. For a Nativity scenario, I thought of having you start with the three wise men and your goal is to first meet Herod and then go on a kind of Easter Egg hunt for the Holy Family in Bethlehem, and I would use RockNROR's trigger system to give the player a time limit, after which the Herod soldier units would switch to the player's enemy so that the Player has a limited time to flee to Egypt and send the wise men back to the Orient. The Holy Family could be a scout (Jesus on a donkey) plus a Composite Archer (for Mary) and a priest unit (for Joseph. Or the Scout unit could be Joseph. Their goal could be to reach the map edge near Egypt and the Magis' goal could be to reach the eastern map edge.

One of the most interesting "Food for Thought" is how to make a scenario that would match parts of Jesus' life between the Nativity and Gethsemane, using features in AOE. I am curious what ideas that you or other have. Here are some that came to my mind:
- Jesus could find Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea, who would be the Gaia old priest units who could tell their friends about Jesus (ie. a Conversion objective).
- Jesus could walk on water to go to a fishing ship or transport with some apostles. The walk on water feature is a neat mapmaking trick where you make shallows and then move the shallows graphics away so that the original spot just looks like water.
- There is an episode where Jesus was on a cliff and a crowd was going to push Him off, but He walked through the crowd instead. I guess this could be the opening part of the scenario, where Jesus is near a cliff edge and there could be an Enemy Player's crowd near him, and then like 4 seconds into the Scenario they could switch to Allied or Neutral so that He could walk through them.
- Jesus had a lot of farming parables, so there could be an objective involving gathering food from berries or a farm. There could be Gaia farmers or another AI Player (friend or enemy) near the resources and Jesus could in effect be a person in the parable.
- Another objective could be for Jesus to visit the synagogue (temple) in Nazareth, where he preached.
- Another objective could be to gather fish. Jesus could start as the only Player unit and then he could go find the Gaia fishermen and their boats by the shore.
- Jesus could visit the Jordan river for baptism. But if I used that objective, it would have to be the starting one, and then I would have to figure out how to work that into the part where he goes on a cliff area with enemies who switch to Neutral or allies.
- Jesus cast out demons like "Legion." But he did not kill the demons. So I could have Legion units representing demons, but it seems like the best that I could do would be to make them move away from or toward slinger units controlled by the player. The objective in that case could be to lure or prod the Legion enemy into a certain space like a shallows area. I would need to use the RockNROR triggers to make the Legion Player to switch to the Player's ally, since otherwise either the Legion or the slingers would kill each other or chase each other around the map indefinitely. And the only trigger that comes to mind is the timing trigger, where after X seconds of game time, the Player's status chances. There were a couple NT stories about Jesus or the apostles casting out demons, so the objective could be moving the Legion unit.
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