The Very Last Book About War (PFRPG)

4.00/5 (based on 2 ratings)
DDB0007E

Add Print/PDF Bundle $14.99

Add PDF $4.99

Print Edition Unavailable

Facebook Twitter Email

Throughout the history of epic fantasy, one thing never changes: War! Now you and your friends will be able to portray all the heroism and drama of a grand battle as your PCs lead men and monsters in conflict on the field of battle. Dire Destiny Books presents a new system that truly weds the individual heroics and derring-do of fantasy roleplay to the epic sweep and scope of wargaming, allowing player characters to engage in tactical leadership and use their unique abilities to the fullest. Your characters can now range from one end of the battlefield to the other, leading charges, rallying stragglers, challenging enemy officers and having a direct effect on the performance and morale of the troops under their command. Gather your bannermen and draw your maps of conquest, but remember: no plan survives contact with the enemy...

Product Availability

Print/PDF Bundle:

Available now

Will be added to your My Downloads page when your order ships.

PDF:

Fulfilled immediately.

Print Edition:

Unavailable

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.

DDB0007


See Also:

Average product rating:

4.00/5 (based on 2 ratings)

Sign in to create or edit a product review.

Huh. What is it good for? (Absolutely Nothing, unlike this book)

4/5

I'm a big fan of the Kingdom building rules from Ultimate Campaign, and this book presents another way of handling mass combats (I have several books on mass combat already).

The Good
This book presents a very well-thought-out extension to the normal Pathfinder combat rules for larger engagements, with 20'x20' squares occupied by "cohorts" (which have variable numbers of creatures in them), and multiple cohorts group together to form "units", which fight as a whole, using what is effectively a modified set of the normal combat rules.

Morale is covered in enough depth, with a nice, simple mechanic, that it's easy to include its effects on units without getting bogged down in detail. The book makes good use of existing conditions to show the effects of morale (which is exactly how it should be).

Commanders are characters who attach themselves to units, and provide benefits to them. They may also take specific actions of their own, which can have some interesting effects on the unit's ability to deal with the enemy. In addition, if the commander is a PC, they can earn Valor Points, which can be used for one-off bonuses to die rolls or, if saved after a battle, can provide bonuses to the character's Leadership score.

The Bad
This is a good book. I do have a few problems with it, though.

Firstly, it's less about war, and more about battle. While the rules do cover recruitment and upkeep of units, and a little bit about strategic movement, these sections aren't as deeply involved as the main mechanics in the book, which is something of a failing.

Big Creatures. The standard cohort rules in this book only cover cohorts from Small to Huge size, which is fine for the vast majority of engagements, but every now and then you want to throw a dragon (or trained house cats) into a major battle, and this possibility doesn't even get mentioned. It's probably a fairly easy matter to just say that the dragon fights as its own unit, but it would be nice to see the possibility covered in these rules.

Scale. Now, I'll admit that I've not taken much time to game out this system, and a nod is given to "faking" larger units by just saying "well, in this fight medium cohorts are actually 50-strong, not 10", the detailed tactical nature of these rules means that it suffers from the "big fight" problem that the core Pathfinder rules so - once you're dealing with more than about 20 combatants/units, the game gets bogged down. Which means that the maximum realistic size of fight that these rules can comfortably handle is (by my estimate) around 300. Which is a very fine number of people to be involved in a fight, but I think I'd have preferred to see a way to scale cohorts up in a way that lets them interact with normal scale ones.

The Conclusion
Even with the flaws, this is an extremely good take on mid-scale skirmishes, and it can be adapted to any scale you want (even if it can't handle multiple scales). If you want to be able to have big (and I do mean big) fights using a set of rules that you already know the basics of, then this is probably the best resource I've seen.


Very Fun & Easy - Tweaks May be Necessary

4/5

I love the fact that UC & Kingmaker added Mass Combat to PF but, from the beginning, I've been plagued by nitpicks wildly varying in degree.

For instance, how do I resolve flanking maneuvers or mixed melee/ranged rounds with multiple armies on the field? How can I quantify player contributions to the battle in more than just scripted encounters? Why the hell is there no appreciable difference between a CR3 army of 100 L4 Fighters and a CR3 army of 200 L2 Fighters, except that the latter takes twice as much resource consumption? Why do I have to handwave things like "Heavy Infantry in the front and Spearmen on the flanks! Light Cavalry harass the lines and Heavy Cavalry flank the archers!"

TVLBaW is the answer to my prayers. Kenzie elegantly handles all of the intricacies of basic battle tactics and strategy while building on the existing system to minimize bookkeeping. It's not a perfect answer, and it definitely requires some effort, but it works if you work it.

Here's the way I'll describe it to my players the next time it comes up:
"Would you like to handle the next combat using the regular Mass Combat rules which you've seen before or would you like to use a much more fun system which requires a bit more time/effort? Basically, do you want to make mass combat faster or more fun?"

Quick notes:
1) No, this does not have clear compatibility rules with UC Mass Combat. The pricing for units etc. are gp-based, which I will definitely NOT use. I plan to use UC's rules on army building/maintenance if I use TVLBaW for combat. I might houserule certain things with tactics etc, but even dropping it is a decent trade for the fun factor.

2) Some things are weird: A character avoids damage from a ranged attack volley with a DC15. Just a DC15 which never fails. Also, while DR is accounted for, regeneration is not. I'd probably treat that as the rules for healing, which don't allow dropped cohorts to respawn. Also, grab etc. has no effect. There's some good weird though: you can challenge an enemy commander to direct combat for three rounds (which takes place during a "paused" 1-minute mass combat round) and, if the commander refuses, their whole unit takes attack penalties.

3) It's very clearly designed for low-level play: My players have an army of 100 L5 Fire Domain Clerics which channel negative as a ray/smite and have Fireball as a 5th level domain spell. By these rules, once per battle they deal an automatic 1750 HP multiplied by every "cohort" of about 10 troops they hit with no saving throw (in this case max 9). An army of 100 level 5 Fighters with 40 HP each has 4000HP, and can be easily one-shotted even if you rule that it only affects 3 cohorts rather than 9. Might make more sense to rule that max damage is HP x size of cohorts affected. If a character is caught in the blast, though, they're guaranteed death even if they make all their saves unless they have Improved Evasion and lucky rolls. This is sticky stuff. Then again, it may say more about the current mass combat rules than anything else.

4) Surprisingly resistant to cheap metagaming: Remember that example of fighter armies above? The larger army may be fighting against roughly equal hit points, but they'll get an extra attack for outnumbering 2-to-1 and another if they set up a flank (which should be easier since they're twice the size). That said, they'll lose the latter advantage if they get bottlenecked and also get an extra attack against them if they get flanked themselves. Size actually matters now.

5) You're going to need statblocks: One of the things I appreciated about UCMC was that I could very quickly slap together an army on the fly without actually building out the base units. This system uses the actual stats and armament of the base units for combat, so you'll need to build a stat block for every unit type.


Webstore Gninja Minion

Now available!

Scarab Sages

Here it is, the Very Last Book in the Very Last Book series!


I have a question, does this focus more on the PCs and NPCs and what might be called the 'heroic', individual-warrior side of warfare, or is it more like Legendary Games' Ultimate Battle and focus on the w=mass combat side of things?

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This book is definitely Hero-focused, but not completely at the expense of battle tactics. The idea is to create an encounter where you have two armies clashing on the tabletop, and it is up to the heroes to influence the outcome one way or another. The goal was to find a way to preserve the sense of huge armies clashing, but still allow the Player Characters to make maximum use of their abilities, and give them a direct impact on the ebb and flow of the battle.

Think of the battle scenes from "The Lord of the Rings": Aragorn charges into a horde of Orcs and practically holds them up all by himself. The Witch King swoops down on the armies of men and casually slaughters dozens at a stroke. These events have a great impact on the field, but there are still huge forces pushing against one another, and the outcome will still rely on a certain amount of tactical thinking and maneuvering of forces.

The first section of the book deals with the way military units operate on the tabletop and how creatures make up units, and units make up an army. It describes how units of creatures move and fight against one another, and what the broad tactical concerns are.

The remainder of the book focuses on adding characters to the mix, and how their fancy abilities can be used to in the context of the battle: how they can influence friendly troops, slaughter their enemies, and challenge enemy commanders. We kept the rules as close as we could to standard Pathfinder combat, and our intent was to make sure a character is never in a position where he or she can't use a class feature, spell, or item to have an effect on events.


Ah, thanks for explaining that.


Is this book compatible with the mass combat rules from ultimate Campaign?

Scarab Sages

Mortagon wrote:
Is this book compatible with the mass combat rules from ultimate Campaign?

This book presents an alternate approach to the mass combat system in Ultimate Campaign. That system is much more abstract: encounters take place between extremely homogenous "armies" and the influence of the Player Characters is largely mathematical. You do not get a real sense that the characters are in control of the ebb and flow of battle.

In this new system, mass combat is MUCH closer to a normal Pathfinder encounter, with certain modifications relating to scale being the primary difference. Combat takes place on the battle-mat. Opposing forces are represented by multiple figures or tokens, grouped together in "cohorts" and military "units". Player characters can bring their various powers and abilities to bear across the entire battle, not just one circumscribed portion of it. A well-placed fireball, a heroic charge, the correct prayer in the correct place, etc - all of these can have a direct impact on the fight and either win or lose the day. This is a much more dramatic take on mass combat with more opportunities for role-play.

To give you an example, there's a special mechanic for martial characters called "bloodbath" which proved extremely popular in play-testing. Characters can use this mechanic to wade into a unit of enemy troops and focus all their efforts on killing as many of the enemy as possible. It brings to mind the battlefield exploits of Conan, or Elric, or dare I say it: Belkar Bitterleaf.

In short, you get the drama of fantasy warfare, and not just the bookkeeping.


Ok, sounds like something my players would enjoy so I'll check it out :)


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Wolfsnap wrote:


This book presents an alternate approach to the mass combat system in Ultimate Campaign. That system is much more abstract: encounters take place between extremely homogenous "armies" and the influence of the Player Characters is largely mathematical. You do not get a real sense that the characters are in control of the ebb and flow of battle.

In this new system, mass combat is MUCH closer to a normal Pathfinder encounter, with certain modifications relating to scale being the primary difference. Combat takes place on the battle-mat. Opposing forces are represented by multiple figures or tokens, grouped together in "cohorts" and military "units". Player characters can bring their various powers and abilities to bear across the entire battle, not just one circumscribed portion of it. A well-placed fireball, a heroic charge, the correct prayer in the correct place, etc - all of these can have a direct impact on the fight and either win or lose the day. This is a much more dramatic take on mass combat with more opportunities for role-play.

To give you an example, there's a special mechanic for martial characters called "bloodbath" which proved extremely popular in play-testing. Characters can use this mechanic to wade into a unit of enemy troops and focus all their efforts on killing as many of the enemy as possible. It brings to mind the battlefield exploits of Conan, or Elric, or dare I say it: Belkar Bitterleaf.

In short, you get the drama of fantasy warfare, and not just the bookkeeping.

Sounds fun! My first reaction was "Chain Mail to D&D to AD&D to D&D3.5 to Pathfinder to Chain Mail" but sounds like, in the words of Chiun, Master of Sinanju, "No. I am better than that." :-)

Scarab Sages

Ed Reppert wrote:
Sounds fun! My first reaction was "Chain Mail to D&D to AD&D to D&D3.5 to Pathfinder to Chain Mail" but sounds like, in the words of Chiun, Master of Sinanju, "No. I am better than that." :-)

Ha! You're not too far wrong, as far as inspiration goes. In fact "Chainmail" gets name-dropped in the book. Although the system is still basically a variant on traditional Pathfinder, there is a definite sense of "coming full circle".


You've sold me.

Scarab Sages

If anyone is interested in doing a review of the book, please drop me a PM. Thank you!


I'm interested in getting it, is it worth it?

Scarab Sages

H2Osw wrote:
I'm interested in getting it, is it worth it?

If you want to play or run any kind of a large battle scenario, either as the capstone to a series of adventures or in the context of an adventure path focused on war, then I think it's absolutely worth it. :)


I've added it Ito my cart, I'll give it a shot once I find a few other things.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Glad to see I'm not the only one who remembers Chiun. Been years since I've read The Destroyer


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Bought. It sounds good. Having played Chainmail in the early 70s before picking up D&D didn't hurt. Our early D&D campaigns involved mass battles and I've kept it in my campaigns over the last 40 years.

Scarab Sages

People sometimes forget that before they were called "adventure paths" they were called "campaigns", a term borrowed from the roleplaying's military/wargaming roots.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
CalisNight wrote:
Glad to see I'm not the only one who remembers Chiun. Been years since I've read The Destroyer

Pretty much the whole series is available as ebooks.


Was the first line intended to make us all immediately think of Ron Perlman, saying "War. War never changes."

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.
AbsolutGrndZer0 wrote:
Was the first line intended to make us all immediately think of Ron Perlman, saying "War. War never changes."

Marketing! Marketing never changes!

BTW - had a great first Day at Gen Con 2014. Hopefully supplies of the new book will hold out!

Scarab Sages

Just got back from GenCon 2014 - had a fantastic time and enjoyed talking to everyone about The Very last Book About War!

Scarab Sages

Print copies of The Very Last Book About War are now back in stock at Paizo!

ALSO: check out this interview I did at RPGMP3.com where we talk about the new book, Dire Destiny, and a whole lot about the fun and complexities of Game Mastering.

Balgin chats with Wolfsnap


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hm. I bought the pdf of this and the alignment one because that's all that was available at the time. Am I going to have to pay full price for the books now?

Scarab Sages

Unfortunately I don't have any control over how the paizo store manages these things, but if you send a message to Liz Courts she may be able to work something out for you. I'm certainly not opposed to pro-rating the book for those people who bought the PDF.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Wolfsnap wrote:
Unfortunately I don't have any control over how the paizo store manages these things, but if you send a message to Liz Courts she may be able to work something out for you. I'm certainly not opposed to pro-rating the book for those people who bought the PDF.

You tell me what you want to do, Wolfsnap, and I'll figure out if we can do it or not. Your product, you make the rules. :D

Scarab Sages

Liz Courts wrote:
Wolfsnap wrote:
Unfortunately I don't have any control over how the paizo store manages these things, but if you send a message to Liz Courts she may be able to work something out for you. I'm certainly not opposed to pro-rating the book for those people who bought the PDF.
You tell me what you want to do, Wolfsnap, and I'll figure out if we can do it or not. Your product, you make the rules. :D

If that's the case, then anyone who bought the PDF before the print version was available should be able to pay the difference for a Print/PDF bundle. Hopefully that won't be a problem.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

If Liz can get that set up, that'd be great! :-)

Webstore Gninja Minion

Huh. That worked better than expected. If you purchased the PDF before September 5th, you should be able to add the print edition to the shopping cart.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
Huh. That worked better than expected. If you purchased the PDF before September 5th, you should be able to add the print edition to the shopping cart.

Yep, worked fine for the "about war" book. Now can you do the same for the "about alignment" one, please?

I see there's another one about mounted combat. Don't have that pdf, guess I'll just have to get the bundle. :-)

@Wolfsnap: This is really good stuff, thanks for writing! :-)

Scarab Sages

Ed- Thank you! I'm glad you like them!

The Alignment book was released last year and has been in and out of print since then. Generally a release will hit the Paizo store in PDF form first, and Paizo gets the print versions in stock just after PaizoCon or GenCon (which I attend). The vast majority of people buy only the PDF, which is why its more readily available. However, you can always get a print copy of EVERYTHING from Dire Destiny Books by going to our store at Lulu.com, where you can get all of our books via Print-on-demand:

Dire Destiny Online Bookstore

I will note that Paizo.com is the ONLY place you can get a PDF/Print Bundle, but only when they have print books in stock. They're kind of like pupkin-spice lattes that way. :)


Wolfsnap wrote:

Ed- Thank you! I'm glad you like them!

The Alignment book was released last year and has been in and out of print since then. Generally a release will hit the Paizo store in PDF form first, and Paizo gets the print versions in stock just after PaizoCon or GenCon (which I attend). The vast majority of people buy only the PDF, which is why its more readily available. However, you can always get a print copy of EVERYTHING from Dire Destiny Books by going to our store at Lulu.com, where you can get all of our books via Print-on-demand:

Dire Destiny Online Bookstore

I will note that Paizo.com is the ONLY place you can get a PDF/Print Bundle, but only when they have print books in stock. They're kind of like pupkin-spice lattes that way. :)

Thanks for sharing that link.

Scarab Sages

If you like our other books, you might want to pick up "The Tomb of Haggemoth", which was our first publication - an adventure path originally written for 3.5.


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I've got about 900 bucks in my cart right now. Not sure what I'm going to do about that.

Scarab Sages

Congratulations to all of the participants who successfully fought "The Battle of Solly's Farm" at Paizocon 2015! Both Groups used their superior ranged abilities to their advantage over the Orcs, however in the second session the heroes failed their scouting roll and the enemy stole a march on them, which cost them dearly as the orcs plowed into a weak flank. Sacrifice prevented total disaster however, as a brave hero met his end while challenging the Orc Warlord to single combat in order to stall their implacable advance! The heroes in the first session were the more aggressive, as several of them waded into the enemy to successfully use the "Bloodbath" mechanic to decimate entire units of their foes, including a particularly brave wizard who managed to take down some 50 orcs with an ingenious use of the "Ray of Frost" spell!

Grand Lodge

I was in the second session defending Solly's farm ... it was a blast! I briefly review the game in this article (near the bottom)

I also posted some pictures on flickr

Scarab Sages

Thanks Ryan!

Grand Lodge

@Wolfsnap ... check this out. Very portable, beautiful terrain. Would be perfect for running demos at conventions and such.

PEDION Modular Prepainted Terrain System for RPGs & Wargames

Scarab Sages

RyanH wrote:

@Wolfsnap ... check this out. Very portable, beautiful terrain. Would be perfect for running demos at conventions and such.

PEDION Modular Prepainted Terrain System for RPGs & Wargames

Hey, that does look pretty cool! Thanks for the heads-up!

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks to everyone who came by my table at Gen Con 2015! New print copies of this book should be available in the Paizo store in a couple of weeks.

Scarab Sages

Thanks to the Daily Lunatic for his review!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Reviewed!


Is this still available in print?

Scarab Sages

Many thanks to Chemlak for the new review!

Scarab Sages

rainzax wrote:
Is this still available in print?

Print-on-demand copies can always be ordered from our store at lulu.com

Scarab Sages

Print copies will be available at our table in Author's Alley at Gen COn 2016!

Community / Forums / Paizo / Product Discussion / The Very Last Book About War (PFRPG) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.