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TLDR: How would you start a war between allied nations?

A little bit of background. My story takes place in world where people have the ability to use life force much like electricity. Three main races, each with a kingdom in roughly the same area. Historically, the third race waged war on the other two until they found a way to fight back. Centuries later, the two kingdoms are still at peace while the third is mildly ostracized. Every so often there are storms that can recharge the second race.

Now, my main character's goal is to start a war between the two allied nations without them realizing that they're being manipulated. I'm looking for thoughts on how to start the war.

Initially I'm thinking I'd start with cutting communication between them. As you fake war preparation with one side, the other responds with real preparation. Do this until it escalates and you don't have to fake things.

Another idea I have is creating a competition for the resource of the storm. Right now it's important to one race but not the other and I can't think of a reason why they would fight over it when only one of them needs it.

Any insight? Assassinations? Kidnappings? How to fake it to make it look like the royalty of each side is personally committing these acts?

Thanks in advance.

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closed as too broad by Cyn, JBH, Renan, Shadowzee, AlexP Jan 8 at 2:20

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ "Centuries later, the two kingdoms are still at peace while the third is mildly ostracized" None of that is how it generally worked. Kingdoms grew and shrunk, vanished and appeared, merged and split, alliances shifted frequently. If you want guidance on how intrigue works, simply read just about anything by Shakespeare...or any good history book on the type of period you care about. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jan 7 at 23:44
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. SE's Q&A model is one-specific-question/one-best-answer. This is too broad. There are thousands of ways to start a war for thousands of reasons. Remember, SE is not a discussion forum. This question would be better asked in Worldbuilding Chat or consider our Sandbox. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 8 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ This is a perfect illustrative example of too broad. Hint: read just about any history book. Some personal favorites: Homer's Iliad (the oldest epic poem in the lineage which led to our civilization; Eris, goddess of discord, engineered the events which led to Paris son of king Priamus of Troy seducing Helen, wife of king Menelaus of Sparta); the English efforts against Napoleon (leading to the disastrous invasion of Russia by the French Empire); Word War 1 (radical Serb terrorist kills Austrian crown prince, leading to Germany starting a war on two fronts againt France and Russia). $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 8 at 2:28
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I'm assuming that your main character has significant resources, or else this requires an awful lot of luck/pre-existing conflicts and tensions.

If you have access to military resources in at least one country (ideally both, but one is enough), or at least some skilled and discreet mercenaries (an unlikely combination, but possible if you have enough money to outbid any competition) you could try a false flag operation: basically, you perform an attack on your own people and make it look like (insert faction here) did it instead. Of course, the other side will be able to truthfully deny having anything to do with it, but propaganda and public perception have a poor correlation to the truth in practice. Any denials will be considered unbelievable, especially if you're subtle enough to make it look like (insert faction here) was attempting to disguise that operation (but make sure it's clumsy enough to be seen through). Bonus points if you can get somebody high up in the other country to claim all credit for the operation.

The beauty of this is that it generally doesn't matter if a minority have doubts: you just need the majority to be fired with war fervor to provoke a war, and you'll get that on both sides. One side will be screaming about having been unjustly attacked, while the other will be screaming about having been unjustly accused, which makes an excellent recipe for high tensions. Two false flag operations, especially if you make them on targets that are set up to look like vital security/defense targets that one would eliminate if preparing for an invasion, would probably be enough; if necessary, add an assassination or massacre or similar atrocity as a trigger, but it's likely that the two sides will provide that on their own if you've done your job right. Just look at WWI: there were high tensions, and then one official getting shot by some tiny little group in Serbia lit the fire and started a war that killed about 10 million people.

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Build spy networks in both countries. Pay for said spies with gold from the other country so they think they're being paid for by said country.

What you end up with is good information about both countries and should a spy get caught, it looks like the other side was responsible. Both sides will deny it's their spy.

Once tension starts to increase, the leaking of information gathered from the spies to harm the reputation of the leaders should amp the situation. Maybe also release some false information for amusement with the real stuff.

Supply money and weapons to malcontents living in each country for some inner turmoil.

Finally throw in an assassination or two to spark the conflict and the conflict from there will be self sustaining.

What to remember is that both sides will be doing a lot of this themselves. All you need to do is help it along.

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