A Locomotive Taxonomy

This is a suggested system for describing, naming, and classifying pieces used in Chess Variants based on their movement.
It is a development of ideas first expressed in comments that arose while play-testing Fortress Chess with its inventor, Joe Joyce.

Fifteen pieces provide the foundation from which to build the nomenclature. These 15 consist of 4 basic pieces, their 6 twofold combinations, and the 5 non-royal FIDE pieces.

Basic Pieces
Name Profile Alternatives Prefix
Ferz F Friar Fierce
Wazir W Wizard Wise
Alfil A Abbot Armored
Dabbabah D Druid Dread
Combination Pieces
Name Profile Alternatives Prefix
Guard FW Man, Fool Loyal
Elephant AF Acolyte Rogue
Duke DF Camel, Egret Lord
Waffle AW Battlehound, Mastiff Iron
Warmachine DW Warrior War
Alibaba AD Thief Barbarian
FIDE Pieces
Name Profile Alternatives Prefix
Pawn P - Dragon
Bishop B - Bold
Knight N Horse Noble
Rook R Castle, Chariot Fortified
Queen RB - Regal

With just these 15 building blocks we can name and describe many other pieces used in chess variants. This is done by adding the appropriate Prefix or Prefixes to a relevant Name or Alternative.

Thus a piece sometimes called a Champion and combining Rook with Knight (RN) would be a Noble-Rook or a Fortified-Knight, though for these simple combinations I would suggest using the name of the more powerful piece with the other piece or pieces providing the prefixes.

Other examples are the Amazon (NRB) which is a Noble-Queen; Centaur (NFW), a Noble-Guard; and FAD (FAD), a Fierce-Thief.

All these examples are of a simple "OR" combination, where the resulting piece can be moved as only one of its components in a single turn. To allow for more complex types of combination ("AND", "AND/OR") as well as step1 repetition of strides2 or paces3 (Rider pieces) sets of affixes and qualifiers are required.

Suffixes are used to indicate the way components are joined and whether the component must or cannot capture. Suffixes form sets of 3, grouped by their Use and differentiated by their scope of Name, Prefix, or Combined
Name Prefix Combined Use
- - - With no suffixes the piece may make only a single-stride, single-pace move, and the move must finish in an empty or enemy occupied cell.
Walker Walking Strider Used with a compound component the piece may move as any of the associated sub-components (a stride) and then (optionally) as any of the remaining sub-components again.
Rider Riding Charger Used when the piece may make a multi-pace move.
Companion Invincible Prince Used where a step must finish in an empty cell, that is the move of this component cannot be used to capture.
Conqueror Embattled Grandmaster Used where the component move must finish in an enemy occupied cell, that is the component must be used to capture.
Prefixes are used to indicate Direction and Precedence. Prefixes are also grouped in sets of 3 apart from those for Precedence which form a pair, having a scope of just Name or Prefix.
Name Prefix Combined Use
- - - With no prefixes the movement of a piece is linear (has constant direction) and may be in any direction supported by the component.
Bent Errant Twisted Used to indicate that the direction may be changed between steps resulting in a possibly non-linear move.
Crooked Itinerant Wayward Used to indicate that the direction must be changed between steps.
Arch High - Used with the sub-component that must come first, if any.
Brave Fearless Valiant Movement must be forward, that is toward the opponent's home rank.
Constant Faithful Steadfast Movement must be forwards or sideways.
Daunted Grim Vigilant Movement must be sideways.
Broken Grieving Woeful Movement must be sideways or backwards.
Bereft Forlorn Vanquished Movement must be backwards

Finally there are 7 qualifiers which modify the conditions associated with Rider and Walker movement

Qualifier Meaning
- Without Qualifiers the following conditions apply:
* a move has a default of 2 relevant steps.
* the relevant number of steps is a maximum.
* each step must finish in an empty cell or result in a capture.
* a move terminates with the first capture.
far There is no fixed maximum number of steps.
free The moving piece may leap any piece occupying the end cell of a step.
fury The indicated number of steps is a minimum.
fire The piece must make exactly the number of steps indicated
fell Capturing at the end of a step does not terminate the move
ring The series of steps form a circular pattern that would bring the piece back to its starting position. Its use implies both far and a non-linear prefix.
n-step n is the relevant number of steps.

Some Examples

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