Military Characters in a Civilian Commune

If I want to make a military fleet commander from a civilian commune (like Admiral Cain from BSG) what LPs do I use?

The setting, LPs and traits seem to indicate that there is no way to have access to hammer fleets and anvil armies without being a noble. It is also perfectly legal to burn up a democratically governed world that has no feudal or noble elements whatsoever. Volunteer and Professional Soldier LPs are available in the Commune setting, so you can still burn up a ground-pounder with no problem. (Although they appear to have no way to get access to even anvil-level armor, so I wonder how they are supposed to fight any other military force in the setting, but whatever.) But what if I want to have a democratic government with a powerful space navy? Can I represent these characters without having to resort to “democratic nobles”?

Take a Professional Volunteer Military for your world. Then use the Hammer and Anvil LPs as equivalents. You can get around a lot of the nobility requirements, especially in the Hammer.

If you want Civilian Commune + Hammer & Anvil make sure that you include them in your world burning (ie: your predominant military is a Professional Volunteer Force or you have a Military Junta faction).

You don’t need to take any noble lifepaths to become a Lord Pilot Hammer or Hammer Captain.

The only restrictions are the requirements of individual lifepaths. The Volunteer and Professional Soldier can take Anvil lifepaths. They’re in the Commune setting to make them less accessible to worlds without Communes, not to keep them out of the Anvil. You can become an Anvil Captain without taking any noble lifepaths.

The only way to captain a ship without taking Lord-Pilot Hammer or the Your Majesty Trait is through the Spacefarer setting. That’s perfectly feasible.

If you want people who have access to Iron or are capable of interfacing with a ship, you’ll need to allow for Lord-Pilot Anvil and L-P Hammer from either nobility or stewardship (or hammer if you’re going for L-P Hammer). And if you want to be top dog in a Hammer fleet (Hammer Lord) you’ll need to at some point switch over to the Nobility setting. However since you only need to slide over into Nobility for that last LP you could say that the extra year needed for the setting change is simply part of the time it takes to gain the rank and ignore all the rest of that Nobility claptrap.

Also for the record, late-show Admiral Adama is totally a Void Lord.

Actually, it was burning Adama as a Void Lord that first got me thinking about this! :wink:

mtiru, isn’t Lord-Pilot Hammer a noble title?

Volunteer and Professional Soldier don’t have any special restrictions on jumping over to Anvil, but they also don’t seem to help you very much. The fact that they were put there to keep them out of non-Commune hands is interesting, though. Thanks for that tidbit!

I had noticed that you don’t need the nobility or steward settings to get to Anvil Captain, or Hammer Captain. But that just means that the Commune could have a fleet with no Admirals, or an army with no Generals. So, yes, allowing the Hammer and Anvil settings in world-burning is great for generating everything up to the captains and troop leaders… but not the top brass guys.

As far as I can tell (and I’m pretty sure this is a default assumption wired into the Iron Empires setting) if you want to be a character with a fleet and not just a ship, you have to be a Hammer Lord (ie: a noble). It also seems cathexis is right, that the only way to even interface with a military ship or iron legally is to be L-P Anvil or L-P Hammer, which are also nobles. I guess even if I burn up an Commune Admiral, her pilots would have to be nobles, even if they got their L-P Hammer from the Hammer setting. It’s easy enough to ignore the “color” of those LPs and just make the setting-jump year represent the “extra training” like cathexis suggested, but strictly by the rules there doesn’t seem to be a “Commune Admiral,”
or even a “Commune Military Pilot.”

So, does it seem likely that a Commune’s navy would be made up of more Spacefarer LPs than Hammer LPs? Even if the Hammer setting was available, as Thor pointed out, the only way to captain a ship without L-P Hammer or Your Majesty is through Spacefarer. Now I’m picturing a fleet of militarily modified Mercators being sold to Commune worlds by their Imperial neighbors, to be piloted by their experienced Spacefarers. I guess that raises a question about the Illegal Crucis trait. If a Commune starting implanting the Crucis in their military leaders, those would technically still be illegal, right? I mean, you didn’t earn it through getting a title, some renegade non-Imperial world gave it to you so you could fight in their ships.

You’re basically butting up against some canon assumptions of Burning Empires. The perspective of the game is definitely told from that of the noble rulers. Communes are the most rare instance of any government in the Iron Empires. Therefore, they do not gain all of the benefits one would hope for.

And just to reiterate, you don’t have to be nobility to take the LPH lifepath! Consider it an anachronistic title!

That’s what I figured was happening, but I thought it was worth asking about.

Frankly, I like it better this way. If you aren’t down with the nobility, you just aren’t going to have as powerful and well-rounded of a military as the guys in iron on the planet next door. You are in the Iron Empires, after all.

Cool! Thanks for the help! (And the bit about LPH being an anachronistic title should help when I get to a Starbuck-style character!)

It is possible to have a planet, even in the scope of BE without any modifications, to be just as powerful as a noble group and still not be down with the nobility. Commune covers all the governance that you’ll ever need, and all of the hammer/anvil setting LPs (with the exception of L-P Hammer, Anvil, and the Lords) make sense in a non-noble driven military without any modifications. This only leaves the cosmetic name issue on L-P Hammer (using the one from the Hammer setting), the fact that L-P Anvil is in Stewardship and Court (and also has that name problem), and the fact that the Hammer, Anvil, and Void Lords are in nobility (and have Lord in the name) as issues for making a totally commune-based government with a fully functional military. Since the requirements for the first two Lord LP’s are simply L-P <military branch>, you could easily rename them to Admiral of the Fleet and General of the Army and quietly ignore the fact that they are in the nobility setting. Similarly, there is an entry point to S&C L-P Anvil from Anvil Captain and X-O, so you’ll only have to bounce over to a non-commune-inspired setting for your Iron training before going on to being the commander of all ground forces. I’ve intentionally skipped Forged Lord because it’s a total beast to get without taking the shortcut (8 lifepaths if you go through nobility, something like 12 if you rise through the ranks), plus I highly doubt that a Commune-based government would give someone the power command both hammer and anvil assets. Finally, Void Lord can stay being called Void Lord, in fact I can totally see the Admiral of the Fleet changing his name plaque to say Void Lord once everything goes totally south.

Speaking of setting stuff, I’ve been wondering this for a while, but why is L-P Hammer found in the Nobility and Hammer settings and L-P Anvil in Nobility and S&C but not in Anvil? I’ve always been I’ve always been curious about that, especially it means a second setting jump if you want an Anvil Lord who got there by rising through the ranks of the Anvil military.

Enough of my babble!

Hi Colin,
If I remember correctly, I did this because in the Age of Sail, it was easier to get an officer’s commission in the Navy via service than it was in the Army.


Lady Kate, from the BE examples (and playtest) was explicitly not nobility, and we all know she was awesome. Her brother was a smuggler.

Maybe the ‘noble’ title is where the pilots are angling to going, not where they were. They have the right/ability to handle the big toys. Surely that’s likely to lead some of them to feeling they are more important than the run of the mill civilian. Especially when there is a threat lurking that may need military action.

There’s also the Officer trait which is Hammer-specific and deals with seniority. It’s possible to have a Hammer officer who came up from the streets “outrank” a noble officer who hasn’t been in the service as long. It’s one of the more awesome traits. In our game we have two Forged Lords. One is a higher ranking Officer in the Hammer, giving her a slight moral edge over the other. It hasn’t factored into any disputes yet, but it will!