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The below are questions that have been asked (with some variation) many times or that simply deserve a word or two of explanation. Please check this page before you ask a question on the mailing list.

Game Mechanics

Gold, Taxes, etc.

I've changed the tax setting, but the tax rate is unchanged?
Changes to the tax rate are only applied on tax day. Note that what you set is the tax for next week, so plan ahead. The tax distribution scheme, on the other hand, takes effect immediately.
Why can't I give gold/bonds to people in the same region as me?
While this would appear to be realistic, and has been requested numerous times, it has not and will not be implemented for reasons of game-balance. Allowing direct gold transfers would allow a large number of activities that run contrary to the game's design concepts, such as supporting armies almost any distance from the realm's borders.


My travel page said I'd arrive in 1 hour, and it's 2 hours later and I'm still not there?
Travel - and many other actions - only happen on turns, not in actual real time. There are many good reasons for this, most of them are explained on the Game Mechanics page.

Combat and War

How do encounter settings affect choice of side in combat?
Not very much, realm relations are more important here. The exceptions are murderous, which essentially means "we're out for bloodshed and don't care whose it is" and evasive. Murderous troops always try to find someone to fight, and it may even be allies. Evasive troops may not support their allies in combat, though they will always support their own realm.
There were "battle preparations" for an evasive unit, but they are at peace with everyone?
Evasive units try to, well evade other troops. That usually means running away and hiding well before you can be sure who they are. They will thus actively evade, even if there are no enemy troops in that region, so you still get this message even if there would have been not battle otherwise.
Who has control of the fortifications when?
This has been one of the worst problem in the combat code. There is no perfect automatic method to decide who controls fortifications, so we have gone for a simple, but reliable rule: The owner of a region will usually have control of the fortifications. There are some cases where they won't, but you should assume that they almost always will.
Troops other than the region owner will never have control of the fortifications, and battles will be in the open if, for example, two enemies meet in a region neither controls.
I was captured in a battle that we won! What is that?
While not very likely, this can happen. The best explanation was posted to the mailing list recently:
I suggest you read John Keegan's account of Agincourt in "The Face of Battle" for an insight into nobleman's captivity in the middle ages. Hint: You don't wait until after the battle to take prisoners. If you get in a lucky punch and knock you opponent out, might as well try to drag him off the field and ransom him. (Kristian Thy)
We wiped out all enemy troops, but the takeover they started is still running. Why?
Takeovers are not purely military affairs, the military just supports it and protects the bureaucrats doing the actual takeover. So taking the battlefield is not the same as taking the palace. Almost always, the takeover will end on the next turn. However, this mechanic allows the attacker to send reinforcements, and save his affairs.
Why can't my defeated unit loot or hunt? My side did win the battle after all.
Although your side won the battle, your unit did not do nearly as well. In fact, your unit was scattered, driven from the field of battle, or otherwise rendered completely ineffective as a combat unit. For a while after your unit's defeat, you will be busy reestablishing your chain of command and regrouping your men. During this period of time, there is no way your men can hunt or loot in anything approaching an organized manner.
What are the differences between the responsibilities of a marshal and a general.
The Marshal's duty is to take care of the individual troopleaders under his or her command. The General's duty is to set the general direction of the realm's military strategy and plan.
What is scattered, retreated, rallying - and most importantly, the difference between them?
Scattered is when your men were driven from the battlefield in disarray. It takes longer to gather them and there is a chance you won't find all of them. Retreated means they were defeated but could retreat in a semblance of order. Gathering them will take only one hour. Rallying is what you end up with when you, well rally your men. It'll be one turn before they are ready for action again.


Why can we only recruit in the capital? It's not realistic, I'd like to propose changing it to...
Thanks for the proposal, but we have had this about 35 times. Per month. For the past four years. The answer has been the same every time, and it will be the same again: Recruitment happens in capitals only and that's it. This is a very serious gameplay issue that has been very carefully considered the first five times or so people brought it up. It's not going to change.
Where do rogues go after being wounded or coming out of prison?
If they still have a unit, back to their unit like everyone. If they don't then they will have the opportunity to begin a new life by joining any realm that they haven't been banned from.

Accounts and Characters

I'm going away on holiday. What will happen to my character?
To weed out inactives, all characters are automatically paused if you do not log in for 14 days. You can also pause a character yourself on your user page.
Pausing will remove you from the game for all intents and purposes, taking away your unit, extras and other "volatile" items (your unit, for example, would desert you anyway if not paid for two weeks). It will leave you with your honour and prestige intact and all gold and bonds.
In paused state, your characters will stay untouched for up to 2 months. But don't worry, you will get a reminder e-mail before they are deleted then.

Be aware that pausing your characters is one of a noble's inalienable rights in Battlemaster. Anyone who gives you orders about pausing your characters should be reported to the Titans or Magistrates.

I am a woman and don't like to be called "him" all the time...
The game is slowly being made gender-aware. Unfortunately, this is a lot of work, and since it is "only" visuals, bugs usually take precedence. If you see any, you can enter them on the bugtracker.
Can I be an elf/orc/nubliglub?
No, you can't. All characters are humans in BattleMaster, which is strictly a low-fantasy game. There are some monsters, undead and legends about fairies, trolls and other creatures, but your character is a human.
Additionally, you should keep concepts from other real or fictional worlds out of BattleMaster. If you want to play a game about ancient Rome, there are some around. If you want to play a Tolkien game, or a Star Wars game, or a Warcraft clone or whatever else you like - then go and play one of the many games in those genres. But BattleMaster stands on it's own.

Multiple Accounts

Can I have more than one account?
No. This is the one thing that will get you in serious troubel with no questions and no mercy. Our policy on people who are found to have multiple accounts is simple: All accounts will be locked, indefinitely. The cheater can then go away or start a new account. We do not "ban" people, but those caught cheating lose everything they have gained in the game and have to start again from zero.
My brother/sister/father/room-mate wants to play, too. Is it a problem, since we'll be using the same computer/DSL-line?
No, our anti-cheating code is more sophisticated than that and checks for a lot more than just your IP address.
Can I play my friends characters if he is busy/away ?
No, you can't. Doing so would be considered multi-cheating as you are logging in to two different accounts. If your friend can not play for a few days, that should not be a problem. If he can't play for a while, such as several weeks, he should pause his characters.

Privacy Issues

Will you sell my e-mail address to spammers?
No. I get way too much spam myself, and I'd rather shoot a spammer than do business with him.
That said, spammers do actively search the web for e-mail addresses, and if you make your info public in the game, they may grab it from there. The address is slightly obfuscated automatically, and you can also choose to display a different or otherwise obfuscated address via the player page, but of course there is no guarantee.
Why do you want my real name?
Because I prefer to know who I'm talking to, because a community is based on people knowing each other and because it is my game, I set the rules.
But I don't want my name on the Internet!
Unless you make your information public (on your options page), only the GM will see your real name, e-mail address and so on.
I am chinese, you couldn't read my name anyways. Do you really want it?
BattleMaster does not support Unicode as well as it should, mostly because of translation issues between the webserver frontend and the database backend. You can input your real non-latin-character name if you like and see if it works, or you can use the english equivalent. What I mostly care about is that you use a name that you identify with, and not a made-up fantasy term.

Common Problems

I found a bug/problem/typo or I have an idea to improve the game...
Great! Please use the bugtracker for bugs. If you have ideas or general comments, post to the Discussion mailing list.
Please only mail me (Tom) directly if it is really, really important and has to be very, very private (e.g. a security problem that might compromise the entire database). I am more than busy with more than enough stuff already, and every minute I spend answering your e-mail is a minute I can't use to improve the game or fix bugs.
Are clans allowed in this game?
My position on clans is very simple. One, it is not illegal to have friends. Two, having fun with friends should not diminish the fun of everyone else.
If you want to play with and/or against friends, whether you call it a clan or not, that's fine with me. When whatever your group does wipes out the fun for other players, you'll feel my wrath. This mostly means that it is not ok to take over a realm for your clan. There are always other players around, and I expect you to play nice with them. You can form a guild and use that as your in-game clan representation, as long as other players can join as well (imposing conditions is fine, imposing unrealistic and especially OOC conditions like "must live in our street" is not). You get the idea: As long as your clan does not exclude others from having fun, I'm ok with it.
I wish to complain about another player.
The very first thing you should always do in cases like this is to talk to the person in question. See if you can sort out the problem by bringing it to their attention.
If, and only if, that fails, post to the discussion list. All the GMs read the list, and the comments of other players who might have had similar problems with that other one are valuable to us.
I found a way to boost my stats, gain prestige, fame, etc...
If you think this is a bug, please report it instead of exploiting it. If you think it is not a bug, but unintended, please also report it.
There are GM characters scouring the world for problems like this. If they find out that you abused the game and exploited a bug or gameplay problem instead of reporting it, they will punish you. Your first punishment will be light, but don't let that mislead you into thinking you can do it again. It was a warning. For repeat offenders, there is no limit to the severity of the punishment applied.
This may sound harsh, but it is the only way to keep abuses under control. Not everything can be solved mechanically with program code.
What is the policy on offensive character or troop names ?
The basic rule is that this is a medieval/fantasy strategy game. Anything that is clearly offensive and outside that context may result in the deletion of the affected character or unit. Most modern profanities fall in that area. If you want to be profane, at least be historically authentic.
If you still want to complain, see above under Complaints and Problems for the recommended way to do so.
Because it is rude and annoying, and because it makes it real hard to get the context right.
Why should I not top-post (write my answer before the original mail) on the mailing list?
Why should I snip or trim my email replies?
There are several reasons. First is that everyone does not have to reread everything that has went before to find out the relevant bits that you are replying to. Second, but equally important, people whose download time costs money are wasting money downloading enormous lengths of stuff they have already read. Last it is just annoying to have to go through an entire book of replies to read a 5 word comment or worse... see just an emoticon.

Cheating and Rules-Enforcement

How are the game rules enforced?
We have the Titans and Magistrates for that purpose, as well as several automated anti-cheating systems. Obviously, we won't tell in detail how they work, but they are quite effective. Good cheaters can sometimes evade them for a time, but since the punishment for multi-cheating is the deleting of all involved accounts, that only adds to the pain when they are finally caught.
What is the "one warning rule"?
Tom has a rough rule that says "everyone is entitled to one warning". That means two things: One, very rarely is a harsh punishment dealt for first abusers. Two, the second offense will be treated without mercy. It's worked fairly well over the years.

Browser and E-Mail Issues

The game looks crappy / doesn't work in my browser!
BattleMaster has been tested with Firefox and Opera, but it should work on any standards-compliant browser.
Here is a (slightly scaled-down) screenshot of what it should look like:

Small differences between browsers are normal, but if yours looks very different, then either my code or your browser sucks. Send a mail to tom@battlemaster.org describing your browser and operating system and the problems you have, with a screenshot if possible.
I have a problem with the site/logging in/whatever. I use Internet Explorer versio...
Get a real browser.
IE is known for its bugginess and (like all Microsoft products) ignorance of standards. Get a real browser. Firefox is my favourite, but Opera is cool, too.

If you're a Mac user, you can also use Safari which comes with OSX anyways or Camino. Linux users can try Konqueror. In fact, any standards-compliant browser should work.
Besides, you'll do yourself a favor if you leave IE behind. Many players have done so and are very happy about doing so.

But IE7/8/9 is out and...
Yes, since IE7 it has considerably improved. You should not have many problems (transparency in PNGs seems to be a favourite problem the IE devs can't get fixed, though). We still don't do any special IE-workaround code. If it breaks, you get to keep both parts.
Do I need Javascript/Cookies?
I suggest yes, though the game should work without, though a few features will be missing - for example, without Javascript, the status bar will not be updated.
The BattleMaster page also uses CSS stylesheets, but nothing fancy. Any browser from the past few years should work fine.
The messaging system sucks. Can I use IRC/IM/etc to talk to other people?
Sure you can, we couldn't stop you anyways. The only thing you have to remember is that any and all means of communication outside the game are unofficial. That means if, for example, you ban someone for not obeying an order that was given on IRC, your ban will be reversed by a GM if the banned person complains.
We suggest that you use the in-game message system as much as possible, mostly because not everyone in the game can or wants to use other channels, and we don't want to see anyone excluded.
I heard something about a mailing list?
We used to have a mailing list. It has been closed. You can discuss the game with other players on the Forum.
Is there an IRC channel?
Several. Look at the IRC page for pointers or ask on the discussion list.

Development and Support

What is that about "beta testing"?
A game like this is never "done". Beta is simply the name we use to designate the more experimental parts of it.
We do expect all players to report any bugs that they may find.
How can I contribute to this great game?
Go to the Community Site - there is a lot where you can help out. You could add some fiction like region descriptions or just general background, or write more documentation.
If you have ideas, suggestions or general comments, subscribe to the discussion list and post them there.
I found a bug!
Great! We always like to hear about the bugs we made. See above under #Common Problems for details.
I need some personal help...
Please only write to me (Tom) directly if it is really, really important. The number of players in the game is way too high to allow me to give individual support. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. Please see if you can help yourself with this FAQ, the manual or the community page. Then see if others can help you by asking in your realm or posting to the discussion list.
That said, a few things should be brought to my attention directly. These are: Exploitable bugs (i.e. not just a bug, but something that can be used for cheating), cheaters of all kinds, and serious in-game problems such as gone-wild rulers.
I wrote to Tom, but he never replied!
If it was important, your mail might have been caught in the spam filters. HTML mail has the biggest chance, please don't be a moron and only send HTML mail to people that you positively know want them in that format. The Internet standard is still plain text.
Also, I consider "Outlook" to be essentially a virus distribution tool with a mail-reader plugin. If you use Outlook, your mails stand a higher chance to be trapped in my filters.
If it was general rant, something that should've posted to the mailing list, or something covered in the FAQ or manual, your mail was probably ignored. You don't pay for customer support, so you don't get any if it isn't worth my time. For the record: I get over a hundred e-mails every day, not counting spam. If I were to reply to each one, mail would be a full-time job.

Tom's Position on Issues

Records of Tom's words from d-list on certain actions.

  • Banning - Having a character in some other, even enemy, realm alone should not ever be enough cause for a ban. Give people a chance, not an immediate ban.
  • Names - Remember the benefit of the doubt rule.
  • Atheism - There is no such thing as atheism. Characters are not atheist.