I came to a conclusion the other day. I was considering what I could do on Fletnern to add a little drama to the backdrop, but not necessarily suck the PC parties into the action. The thought occurred to me (probably due to some Tamriel time) of a civil war. The regions the PC parties are in are pretty stable, so by putting an uprising somewhere else, I am adding to the perceived action without having to try and handle adventurers in the middle of massive battles.
The conclusion I came to as I starting to lay out the timeline on how this would occur is this: All revolutions, insurrections or civil wars all seem to start by both sides trying to acquire more weapons or prevent the other side form getting weapons. French Revolution starts with rioting in the streets, and the first major “action” was the storming of the Bastille. Why? To free the Marque de Sade? Nope! To get the 250 barrels of gunpowder. (I once heard a quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher, something along the lines of “How can you trust a people whose national holiday is based on a jail break?” If someone could find me the real quote, I would be eternally grateful.)
Want some more? The assault on Fort Sumter was part of a series of actions taken throughout the South. State governments took over federal possessions within their boundaries after they had succeeded from the Union. President Buchanan allowed the military commanders to surrender their forts and armories without violence, but Lincoln ordered the federal military commanders to hold on. President Davis ordered Fort Sumter to surrender, and they refused. Thus began the American Civil War. It was all about grabbing the weapons. Lexington and Concord - The British forces moved to cease weapons from the Massachusetts colony that had been declared in rebellion. John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry - trying to gain the weapons from the federal arsenal.
OK - So why? In Legend Quest - Optional Weaponry, we laid out the rules for breaking weapons. Fundamental to these rules is that weapons come in different grades. For example - revolutionaries seeking to overthrow their ruler (in a fantasy setting) would likely be armed with hunting bows, hunting arrows, boar spears, and axes for chopping wood. They would want to attack the armory in order to gain heavy crossbows with armor piercing bolts, lances and pikes, and war axes, as well as shields and other armor. It makes a difference, just as it makes a difference between hunting rifles and assault rifles. The way we described it, there is a difference between a silver plated letter opener (ornamental), a steak knife (standard), a butcher’s knife (tool grade), and a knife strong enough to parry a sword attack (combat grade). You can still stab someone to death with a letter opener, but neither it nor your steak knife are going to hold up against armor. Depending on the culture and economy, would major arsenals also have some magic items in them? perhaps a stock of healing potions and some magical arrows at least?
Just to pitch the differences in games, in Legend Quest, you rarely see magical arrows, because each one would need to be enchanted individually so it would not be worth it. Further, healing potions cannot be administered to unconscious people, so they would be more likely to give their officers and combat medics healing balms which can be applied to unconscious folks. So sometimes generic ideas do not carry all that well from game to game, at least not literally. Then again, it doesn’t take much to make it work - one of the reasons we publish so many generic supplements.