The CombatantsThe Hawfax brought few guns with them -- they considered themselves an enlightened people with no need for more than cursory violence. When they arrived on earth, building up a military that could face humans became a necessity. A necessity that all Hawfax regretted and many Hawfax denied. At the start of the war the Hawfax had very few troops, and those that they had were mostly glorified policemen.
The Jungle war was fought fairly informally-- no nation officially sent troops to the amazon, and even the government of Brazil dragged its feet on actually doing anything to hinder one side or the other. The human forces were a ragtag coalition of opportunists. The derivation was mostly from Brazil, the United States, Latin America, and Europe. The attackers were rounded up only after the Hawfax had demonstrated clear military superiority, at which point official opinion came down severely.
The attackers were poorly organized, and their were really two separate forces. Raul Carvalho led a force of mostly local men speaking Portuguese and Spanish. Most of them had immediate grievances against the Hawfax, mainly the end of the rubber-trade. Sam Cade lead a mostly foreign band of adventures and mercenaries, who largely spoke english, but many languages could be found throughout his men. They sought to take back the earth from the aliens and demons that had arrived to conquer mankind. There was a fair amount of military experience in Cade's army, but it was poorly distributed. Of course, no Hawfax had seen previous military action.
SoldiersThe Hawfax mostly fought the war under equipped -- the typical fighter was designed for law enforcement rather than large scale action. Their weapons were largely made of plastics, and had a strong tendency to jam and break after a few hundred shots. Of particularly shoddy quality were the large number of guns printed after the emergency started. Hawfax body armor was also largely ineffective against the large slugs human forces favored, and their own bullets tended to merely injure human combatants.
The Hawfax's greatest equipment advantage was their radios and their sensors. Throughout the war, the Hawfax remained aware of the movements of the enemy forces through a combination of cheap cameras, night vision technology, and ubiquitous radio. Another prominent advantage was the medical advantage: disease stalked many of the men who'd come to fight the Hawfax, including infection, while the Hawfax were able to essentially ignore both wound infection and local illness. Its estimated that a over 70% of the humans who died in the war did so from infection well after they'd been shot.
The hawfax relied on rails to travel throughout their settlement, which were easily cut. Their more independent means of travel-- ATV's, helicopters, and boats, were quite vulnerable to human fire arms. Troops moved largely on foot throughout the conflict.
Both Cade's and Carvalho's armies were armed with a variety of bolt action riffles, shotguns, and pistols. Almost as an effective as a weapon were saws, which were essential in any attempt to deal with high roosting foes. Some soldiers but not many brought armor. notably lacking was artillery and there were very few machine guns. Hand to hand combat heavily favors humans -- a simple blow can seriously injure a hawfax.
The nature of the combatants is another place of strong contrast. The invader's forces are made of men comfortable with violence who have come a long way from home in search of fame and fortune. The Hawfax have a small group of professional men and the remainder of their population is deeply uncomfortable with the concept of violence.
PoliticsHawfax strategists dreamed of the effect that radio, automatic fire, and superior sensors would have on human forces. Before the war the hawfax felt that as long as they were in a group, they were largely impervious to human attacks. They had an especially dovish set of politics and the military they had was viewed unfavorably as peacekeepers and a possible threat to their own security. This will make it difficult for the military to do things like beef up security or abandon unfeasible positions until they have been defeated at least once.
After the conflict starts the hawfax will rapidly start equipping their populace, which is uniquely unsuited for combat. Even after public opinion silences the doves, individuals often will refuse conscription for ethical reasons, or freeze in the face of combat. Their will also be widespread resistance to things like forced relocations, curfews, or using gas against the enemy (not that they have produced any such weapons or even know the best chemicals for use on humans).
Governor Pires Ferreira of the state of Amazonas had minimal troops and while he is on good terms with the hawfax, finds himself reduced to a figure head against the forces moving in his own state. The military will refuse to act until the battles were decided, at which point they will support the winner.
This conflict was unusual in that not only telegraph updates but footage was sent back to the capitals of the world in virtually real time. The hawfax pressed the governments to condemn the actions, but official leaders largely followed the lead of Governor Ferreira in being cautious and timid until they knew how the conflict would end. Some of the democratic nations at least had the excuse that the situation put their militaries and legislatures into bickering upheavals, and that it was clear from the start the action would be over quickly. A strong exception to this was Bolivia, Peru, and Chile, who were very vocal in their condemnation of the attacks, and particularly in blaming Brazil.
BattlesWhen playing out the jungle war, time lines are of necessity fragile things. The PC's ideally should be able to change the execution of the war through clever ideas, convincing authority figures, and general heroics. That said, certain battles are quite likely to happen, and to happen in a general order. A GM can use these as marker posts in the conflict, and change the timing and results in accordance with PC actions.
The Capture of LandingThe first battle of the war will be an assault on the city of landing. Either Cade or Carvalho can make the assault, or they can make it together. Landing is built to human scale, allowing human infantry to rush freely through its streets. This battle is a fairly open battle, with humans on big barges on the river, and the Hawfax making full use of helicopters, boats, and other vehicles-- vehicles likely to go down on their first shot. Guided Rockets may be used by the Hawfax against people in the barges, but they aren't likely to have enough ammo to have a large enough effect. The barge walls will provide a good deal of protection against hawfax bullets until the invaders are close enough to charge. Only the core of the Hawfax miltary will be here, and without large changes in the setup, the battle will end with the humans charging and over-running the place.
The Capture of Landing is costly for the hawfax, and perhaps the best way to minimize causulties is to abandon it later on.
The Siege of HawfaxUnless the hawfax are spurred to action before the initial assault or some clever PC intervenes, human forces will quickly make it to the park region. Or rather, the base of the park region -- the charges that carry humans this far will not help them to get into the heights of the capital. At this point things turn into a siege of a sort. The humans will start cutting down trees they think Hawfax might be in, while trying to keep a look out for Hawfax counterattacks (particularly at night).
Chopping the trees will in fact cause a lot of damage to the hawfax infrastructure, and the amount of damage in this period is highly variable. A well prepared attack will have lots of saws, lots of electric lights and the generators to run them, and have the men construct shelters that will stop hawfax bullets and dropped objects. A poorly prepared attack will lack all three of these things, greatly reducing the amount of damage done during the day and giving the hawfax a large advantage at night. Also key is which trees get chopped down. Some areas are much more important than others, and if the loggers can identify which trees are most important, they will do an order of magnitude more damage.
Large portions of the area under the main areas of attack will be evacuated by the hawfax. While not many will die, there will be a large loss of property. This time is probably dominated by quickly printing large number of weapons and trying to teach its citizenry how to fight.
The attackers will certainly light fires to attempt to burn down the forest. While this is a valid tactic, the hawfax are actually much better prepared to fight fires than people. How well fire will work is in large part based on what time of year its is (September is driest, January the wettest). Wild fires in the jungle work best in the undergrowth of the canopy -- the exact place that the hawfax occupy (and defend). Rain is quite likely to interrupt this: it rains 70% of days in January and 15% of days in July. Still, a GM wishing to turn the battle one way can easily tinker with the weather to give one side or the other an advantage.
The Victory of NightAt certain point, enough of the Hawfax citizenry will be equipped with night vision and firearms to launch a counter attack large enough to overwhelm the remaining human forces. This is entirely reliant on rapidly creating large numbers of weapons.
As its name suggests, the victory of the night will turn out in favor of the hawfax. The question is just how one sided the battle is. Many things can increase Hawfax causalities. Not having enough of the hawfax armed when the battle starts will result in more damage. Choosing the wrong hawfax as soldiers and poor organization can also have detrimental results: conscripts will freeze in combat, disregard orders, attack mindlessly, and other costly behaviors if not properly chosen, trained, and lead. A large scale engagement between the two forces will also be deadly (to both sides). Most of the options that save lives take time though, and all the while the humans are sawing away at the foundations of the city.
One of the biggest factors in this stage of the war is how the attacking humans leave. Do the Hawfax capture them in a surrender? Do they shoot them all where they stand? Do the attackers leave as a group? Do they scatter into the jungle? These options are important, not in the least to the attackers themselves, but also in terms of public relations and cleanup after the war.
Campaigns in the Jungle WarThe Jungle war is a great time and place to set a campaign. Almost everyone was caught unprepared, and its a great place for heroes to shine. The classic miscalculations of PC's and GM's working with new equipment in a new setting is appropriate and 'in-genre'.
Care should be taken in choosing from what angle the players approach the war-- play is very different depending on where the players stand. A foot soldier's campaign is in many ways about survival. Playing humans attackers may not be the most tasteful to all groups, but it is certainly among the most challenging scenarios, while hawfax soldiers are well equipped forces with an interesting resource set who start out outnumbered and in large part outgunned. However, as with most military games, the PC's probably are most effective and most gameable on the outskirts of the action. The classic campaign is human observers (with perhaps an friendly hawfax or two) trying to stop the attacks, by political wrangling, sabotage, and any other tactic the PC's can come up with. They can also be voices of warning in the hawfax community, trying to mobilize the reluctant population for war, and coming up with strategies for winning quickly.
The Jungle war can also serve as background for other campaigns -- it was a defining moment for all involved, which include most if not all of the Hawfax. Vigorously anti-human demagogues will bring up the incident again and again. Military leaders study it extensively. Characters may have fought in the war on either side, giving them history (and in the case of the hawfax, badly needed combat skills).
GM's wishing for a very different game can set their adventures in a world where the hawfax lost the jungle war -- likely due to key buildings being targeted, a dry season letting a forest fire burn the whole thing down, or a nuclear reactor going critical. The hawfax would then be scattered throughout the forest without much infrastructure. The old ruins would make a fitting set for a pulpish plot.
More on the hawfax is coming! I hope you enjoy what you've seen so far!