Skirmishes - Dos and Don'ts


All of which is not to say you can’t have a go at creating/getting a position of Official Skirmish Boss Person - it’s a fine ambition - just be aware that it will be very, very hard.


I’ll see it first hand at E1. Then make up my mind. I just have visions of adults bickering in front of the sentinel gate and not achieving much in the way of fun. And lots of people dying for the lack of planning.


Yeah, that can be accurate. Luckily the people dying are generally either player characters (fictional) or NPCs (even more fictional), so it’s not too much like politics…

And to be fair, the example I sketched in above is probably a worst case scenario. Given that a lot of groups turn up early for conjunctions, and that not every one is of interest to every nation, there’s rarely more than 3 mobs wanting a go, and they’ve usually sorted it out by the time the portal opens…

…not to say they won’t be bitter about it, but it’s usually resolved some way…

…you know, I’m not sure if anyone’s fought a duel over which group is going in yet? Good thing they’re right by the Hospital though…


as So I have gone on several skirmished often in no armour. Why? As I am a ritualistic there to do a job.

So my advice for doing skirmishes.

  1. enjoy them. Play your character.
  2. be willing to lose your character on them. This is not a given but people do die on them so go wrong. Some are harder than you expect.
  3. know why you are going?
    Is this something you want to do? Why?

If you are keen to do skirmishes then know what you can offer.
Are you a physic as well? Can you heal? What hero skills do you bring? Can you follow orders? Are you quick? And so forth

Look at the winds of fortune but also keep your ears open. Let people know in your nation and elsewhere you want to do them and what you can offer.

Be ready to adapt once you go through.

Also remember have fun.

Also to add nearly all of my skirmishes have been after dark


Skirmishes are hard to organise. Unfortunately there are skirmishes where everyone dies because there weren’t enough people and skirmishes where a lot of unhappy players get turned away at the gate. If you find yourself heading for the first problem, try to find the people who were turned away from another skirmish.


Id really resist any idea of an imperial “skirmish cat herder” title or indeed anyone who defines the “good for the collective”… exactly for the reasons of the game being political PVP. These positions do already exist to some extent at a national level, but a position potentially telling X nation that they aren’t able to defend their homeland/do the emotive national thing because of other skirmishes/other imperial interests - would be entertaining. Actually for that reason give it a go.


You also get the reverse; some skirmishes are designed to match a nation or group. For example, the last E3 had a Grendel raid near Sarvos, so most players were happy to prioritise players who lived in the city. That said, our feelings were strong enough (really evocative brief) that even the Sarvos natives ended up filling two skirmishes and we spilled over into another one which was less ‘protect your home’ and more ‘Grendel skulking close to home’ in nature.


You have got a load of responses but I may as well chip in.

There arnt official skirmish leaders and organisers but they do happen. The people in dawn will often see ‘captain charge’ walking around the camp with a clip board organising people into skirmish teams.

We also have the gathering of hunters gaining more traction and likely becoming imperialy recognised this year at which point they will likely become a central authority on monster hunt skirmishes.


Perhaps it needs debating in the military council or Senate. There should be an easy way to make it streamlined and a process that benefits everyone. A rule set that prioritised nation over personal. E.g. it’s a Brass Coast skirmish they get first dibs on the number of slots available. If a nation can’t fill the required numbers it gets opened up to other nations for volunteers based on skills missing from the initial skirmish group. That’s surely the most logical. If it’s a nation related skirmish they have to claim it well before it’s due to start. They can’t turn up 5 mins before and trump people who have been waiting.


Lots of good advice already I see. :slight_smile: I’m going to split mine into two categories with some overlap - tips for people going on a skirmish and tips for people who organise/lead them.

Tips for skirmishers:

  1. Preparation is key.
  2. You can get really good bang for your buck on the equipment front if you spend a few small coins on cheap but effective items. Even though I don’t play a physick I always carry a few herbs to cure things which commonly affect me or my mates (one to cure a broken limb, some vervain for hit points etc). And often a mana crystal so someone can mend my weapon. These are all cheap as chips compared to potions or artisan items, can be bought very quickly and can save your life. If you don’t use them you can sell them on or save for later, as they don’t go off.
  3. Stay alert. Once you are on a skirmish the environment is live and there will be no ‘time outs’. So you need to keep your eyes open at all times. Just because you can see an enemy unit ahead of you doesn’t mean there aren’t more and just because you have won the objective doesn’t mean it is all over. Some barbarians particularly like to use ambushes and those can be deadly.
  4. Know what your objectives are. Know what you have to do to achieve that. Even better if you also understand what the enemy is trying to do too.
  5. Use your time effectively. With such small teams going on skirmishes you are never a useless body. Even if it seems like everyone else is busy, there is always something useful you can be doing (fighting, watching for threats, bringing the wounded to a healer etc etc).

Tips for skirmish leaders:

  1. Preparation is key. Even more for you.
  2. Know what the skirmish is about and what you have to do to achieve victory. I like to brief all my skirmishers on this so they have the capability to use their initiative. Then before we go through the gate I will get them together and quiz them - ask them questions from the briefing to make sure they completely understand and are ready. This also lets them ask any last minute questions.
  3. Have a good second in command or structure to your people. If you have this in place then you can swiftly order a group of people into action under one of those officers, pull of tactical moves etc, without having to create a sub-unit on the fly. Plus some back up if you get taken out of action.
  4. If your troops need particular gear for the mission, tell them when you recruit them so they have time to source it. Make their lives as easy as possible here.
  5. Talk to respected experts. Other skirmish commanders, your generals, the Hospital staff etc. They might have faced similar enemies (often that same day if a lot of missions are going into the same territory). Learn from their experiences.


  1. Aggression and initiative win fights. All things being equal, the side which attacks and exploits opportunities will win.
  2. Many skirmishes are roughly even fights. On that basis I have a rule of thumb that you can decide what to do based on a quick glance around you. If you are outnumbered where you are, it hopefully means your mates have got the enemy outnumbered somewhere else. Keep calm, threaten the enemy and help will be on the way.
    The flip side of this is that if you find you outnumber the enemy in your immediate zone, you have a responsibility to push hard and capitalise - your good situation has been paid for by your mates taking on more of the enemy, so you owe it to them to capitalise and then go to their aid.
  3. If you feel like your position is bad, showing fear can get you all killed. I find that when the enemy are confident they are more likely to push hard and overwhelm you. Thus I strongly believe in the power of psychological warfare; rather than showing I’m worried, I’ll try to push, making attacks against as many individual enemies as I can so each of them feels personally threatened. That can give them pause and buy you either room to maneuver or time for a rescue.
  4. Use the terrain. If ground is open, make sure you hit exposed flanks of the enemy. If in trees or hills, use that to split the enemy and kill them in detail, or stop a larger enemy ganging up on you.


With respect, I would say:

  • There are many ideas in Empire to make IC processes that benefit everyone. Unfortunately, actually realising them on the field is very tricky.
  • It is part of game design that there will be IC reasons to break IC rules, and to benefit individuals at the expense of nations or the Empire.
  • Campaigning for things that would benefit one IC group over another is very much a thing to pursue in uptime, not in downtime, so by all means pick this up with Senators/Generals in-game.
  • I don’t think it will ever be possible to create a legal mechanism to restrict who goes through the Sentinel Gate (I personally believe it would be ruled unconstitutional).

I don’t think PCs being more organised for skirmishes is a bad thing - but I think the relevant aspects of game design need to be taken into account.


Disagreements at the gate are pretty rare I understand, I get the impression that skirmishes going out without the full numbers is more common.

The fun wrinkle at Empire compared to the real world is that no one has any authority to give anyone orders, during battles or skirmishes. It’s part of the OOC design to focus on what’s fun rather than realism. It would be a bit rubbish if only the “best” players got to go on Skirmishes as decided by a committee. So everything has to be organised through IC diplomacy, negotiation and pursuading people to follow your ideas. I find this kind of thing fun, but I won’t pretend that it’s not hard work.

There are a bunch of ways that things are organised on a national level when it comes to skirmishes, in Highguard the adjutants of the generals do a fair bit of organising, but we’re a bit more minded to follow authority figures in Highguard. Other nations do things in their own ways but there’s always a need for people to help with organising, running down information and many other things involved in organising a skirmish, so I imagine anyone involved in this in whatever nation would be glad of more volunteers :slight_smile:.


Be willing to compromise on your expectations if you know you can’t achieve a full success.

My record was “shit I was just told about this at 10pm on a Friday it’s live in FIFTEEN MINUTES, WHO THE HELL IS FIGHTY AND SOBER?”

We got about half the team we’d have needed to assassinate the target of the mission. 15/30 IIRC. However the team that did go were smart enough to sneak up and listen in on the Barbarians, so we got a small amount of intel out of it and nobody died. It wasn’t a success but it was cool.


Crossing over with IC goals a bit but still useful if you want to live: know your healers!


One thing I’ll echo from the people who’ve already mentioned it is make sure that you know as much as you can about the objective and make sure everyone is on the same page as to what the mission is actually about.

This sort of thing can get garbled or misinterpreted as it passes from whoever gets first eyes on the mission to the people who are actually going. So a good double check is to get a wizard to go to the Sentinel Gate and check the details of the conjunction. You’ll need a reasonably accurate location such as “The Castle of Thorns, Astolat, Dawn” but it should tell you what time, how many people and sometimes details about how accessible the mission is and the likelyhood of combat. This can be handy as if you’ve been told it’s a 15 person combat mission and what you get back is a 5 person low combat indoor quest then you can double check your assumptions.

The other thing to watch out for is any twists in what the skirmish actually is, I’ve been on a skirmish where our mission was to go and grab some medical supplies, but when we got there they’d been dug up, orcs were out there in dark along with a terrified civilian. We didn’t manage to change track quickly enough to “how can we get this guy to come in out of the dark with us?” and ended up failing to achieve anything. So be prepared to throw your briefing out the window and adapt to what you actually see what’s happening on the ground.


My Advice would be

  1. don’t dive into a skirmish before you experience combat in the main battle.
  2. go with friends
  3. listen and keep to the objective
  4. NEVER get Isolated!!! (I cannot emphasise this enough)
  5. learn to fight in the light before even thinking of a twilight/night skirmish
    BUT have fun


I don’t yet have data to back this up (I’m intending keeping some over the next year, rather than passing literally everything to the Imperial Offices) but that’s been my experience so far, yes :slight_smile: