Ultimate Commander (PFRPG)

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Take Command!

Ultimate Commander bridges the gap between hero-level small-group adventuring and large-scale battlefield action, bringing you a brand-new character class, the general! These great leaders are capable of wielding a squad of soldiers like a living weapon, trained in complex tactics and with extraordinary acumen on the battlefield. If you've ever wanted to adventure with your own personal army at your back, this is the class for you! At the same time, the rules for this class are fully compatible with the kingdom-building and mass combat rules introduced in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Campaign and expanded and enriched in Ultimate Rulership, Ultimate Battle, and Ultimate War from Legendary Games!

Ultimate Commander includes an amazing array of class abilities and specialized stratagems, feats of command and leadership, and alternate favored class bonuses. It also brings you over a dozen archetypes for the general, from the criminal kingpin to radical revolutionary and the righteous redeemer to the marauding warbringer! It also presents the general's evil opposite, the hordelord, commanding a relentless zombie horde on their path of depravity! Whether your characters lead the armies of heaven or stand in the vanguard of villains, Ultimate Commander opens up a whole new route to victory and conquest! Check out this 42-page supplement and Make Your Game Legendary!

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This massive class-pdf clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page SRD, 4 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 30 pages of pure content, so let's take a look, shall we?

Before we get into the details of the general class, let me explain some of the basic premises of this class. If you've been following my reviews *VERY* carefully, you may be aware of the fact that I consider the troop-subtype awesome - much like swarms, it makes the pitchfork-wielding mob a challenge and its level of abstraction enables venue of storytelling not well-supported by the default system. At the same point, I am a pretty big fan of the mass-combat rules introduced in Ultimate Campaign, superbly supported by Legendary Games' glorious plug-ins. Both have one thing in common - a disjoint of abstraction, one that is slightly exacerbated by mass combat.

Pathfinder's combat is detailed to the point where one may argue that the game turns into a kind of simulator once combat begins - it is probably as close to a simulator with a low level of abstraction as you can get without compromising the fluidity of the playing experience. At the same time, mass-combat rules provide a relatively high degree of abstraction. The general attempts to bridge the gap between the mass combat and regular combat rules. As a base chassis, the general is a class with d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, shields and light + medium armor as well as goo fort- and will-saves.

The basic means to achieve that would be the general's squad. A squad can be considered a somewhat abstract troop of individuals which doubles as a kind of pet-creature that defends the general. As such, an obviously slightly gamist level of abstraction is required to run the class, but one that makes sense - but can the base mechanics stand up to the premise? Gained at 1st level, a squad acts as an aggregate, is not subject to flanking or massive damage, but to sneak attack and massive damage and when reduced to 0 HP, it disbands. A squad counts as one creature for the purpose of skill-checks, attacks, initiative, etc. Squads initially occupy 3 squares, shapeable as the squad sees fit, with actual size category determined by the component creatures. One may move through their squares and the squad may move through occupied squares, but incurs AoOs when it does. Squads cannot be dragged, pushed, repositioned, tripped, grappled or bull-rush'd, except when the effect applies to an area. Squads grappling opponents do incur the grappled condition. Squads are immune to single target spells and require AoE-spells to be properly affected, though, thankfully, with the massive array of spells, the GM remains the final arbiter to whether an obscure spell affects the squad. Squads obviously take +50% damage from spells and effects that inflict AoE damage. Nonlethal damage is properly covered as well.

Whenever a squad disperses or takes damage that is not magically healed within 1 minute, calculate 1/4 of the damage as casualties. Casualty damage cannot be healed by natural healing, since it not only stems from injury and death, but also from loss of morale and desertion. A squad suffering from more than 1/4 of its HP as in casualties receives 1 negative level, though said level cannot kill squads, only impose the penalty- Squads that suffer more than 3/4 maximum HP in casualties are disbanded until the casualty damage can be repaired. Yes, this is pretty much in line with how such mechanics work when used in mass combat. In order to regain troops, generals have to journey to a given settlement to recruit new members. Handy DCs by settlement-size are provided and a squad has a relatively simple attack, though one that can be supplemented by a second attack or a shield. Squads can execute combat maneuvers, threaten squares and can execute AoOs as normal.

Squads increase their HD (D8) every level and have 3/4 BAB-progression, good ref-saves and begin play with1 feat, gaining +1 at 3rd level and then +1 every odd level thereafter. A squad gets good ref-saves and increases its armor bonus every level by +1. Squads also receive a scaling str/con-bonus that scales from +0 to +7 and increase the numbers over the levels of up to 12-18 soldiers, occupying increasing amounts of squares, up to 6 squares. Squads also have their own skill-list and get 2+Int skills per level. Squads can make their teamwork feats only work in conjunction with one allied character.

Now, obviously, the general makes for a superb general when used in conjunction with the kingdom building rules, including quicker, scaling training and army-limits - awesome! Whenever a general benefits from a tactical bonus due to placement on the battlefield, he increases this bonus, rewarding players actually playing the general as the tactical commander he is intended to be. Now where things become interesting is via the synergy of general and squad: As a standard action, the general can enhance the squad's BAB to equal his level and at higher levels, the commands become VERY interesting - 3rd level unlocks the swarm attack: When the general issues this command as a standard action, the squad may expend a standard action to deal general-level damage to all creatures and unattended objects in reach. At higher levels, a buffing command that can be executed as a swift action provides further bonuses.

3+Cha-mod times per day, generals may issue motivational speeches to heal non-casualty damages to the squad that scale thankfully. At 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, a general may learn one squad tactic. Here, we have an example of the rare Legendary Games-glitch, with the page number not being correct, instead listing a "page ??" - thankfully, the adjacent internal linking renders this glitch cosmetic at best. Squad tactics cover a list of 3 pages, with improved mobility and aiding as well as the option to temporarily render terrain difficult. Further hampering spellcasting, firing volleys of bolts etc. can all be found, alongside more conventional tricks à la Blind Fight etc. Holy or unholy damage are also interesting. I noticed a minor issue with Mitigation tactics: This allows the squad to mitigate damage retained, with the amount depending on the general level - namely that since the ability does not use DR or resistance, I'm not sure whether the minimum damage of 1 still applies or not. Granted, this one point is not going to cut it in most cases, but I still would have loved to see this covered. Raising or lowering earth squares in record time may sound none too impressive, but oh boy can you make nasty ambushes with just a bit of time on your hands... All in all, these squad talents are great, though formatting can't seem to decide whether to include a blank line between the talents or not - mind you, this gripe remains an aesthetic one.

At 2nd level, 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the general may select a genius stratagem, which can be executed as a move action and the stratagem either affects an ally or his squad within 30 ft. The stratagems lasts for Int-mod rounds and cover various supplemental buffs, with some being relegated to higher levels. A personal favorite of mine allows for nonlethal damage sans penalties. The general also receives the cavalier banner class feature at 3rd level, with cavalier level +2 as the effective level. 4th level nets contacts in all sorts of places, with command skill determining availability. 5th level also nets higher effective scores for kingdom-building-related bonuses to Loyalty and Stability. Now if the action-economy seemed pretty bled-dry, you'll like to hear that, at 7th level, the general, fighting in tandem with his squad, may lend the enhancement bonus and weapon special abilities to his squad, more interestingly in conjunction with ranged weapons and a proper interaction with ammunition.

Better yet, at higher level, increased power in mass combat, with full synergy with Ultimate Battle, extends the general's field of influence from kingdom building to mass combat. Beyond these abilities, soldiers from the squad sacrificing themselves to keep the general from harm and similar defensive abilities round out an excellent class, with the capstone making the general an instantly recognizable man of wide renown.

The class provides solid favored class options for the core races and also features several archetypes: The Crusader would be a religious commander who can incite a kingdom to forego a kingdom's leader bonus to stability, instead applying it to a reroll of the three checks rolled. Other than that, the archetype nets favored weapons and a minor defensive aura. The guerrilla receives different squad stats and an emphasis on hit and run tactics, with vital strike-charge-synergy, for example. Kingpins would be the subtle commanders, with Stealth and Disguise allowing the kingpin to blend with the squad and the squad to be less conspicuous. Via their illicit gains, they can mitigate failed stability checks and foiling truth-finding and becoming pretty divination-proof also help. Damn cool one! The mindbender is a kind of eldritch-themed enchantment-specialist with a limited array of SPs that help recruiting and succinctly, ways of determining magical influence and a psychic debuff. I like the fluff here, but found myself wishing this had been realized as a telepathy-related archetype instead.

Nobles obviously have quite a bunch of gold to through around and may maintain endowments of a building autonomous of the kingdom and may have friends in higher places. The Rallier provides bravery and more enduring marches. Reavers share teamwork feats with their squad, but take longer to command it and can charge through their squad with a nasty synergy attack. Redeemers are specialists of rehabilitation and nonlethal victories - love them! Revolutionaries receive automatic casualty-replacements when in an area with sufficient dissent. They may also destabilize kingdoms and high-level revolutionaries may whip their squads into zealous frenzy, preventing dispersal.

Strategists do not get the support command, but may designate high-value targets and keep said order lasting longer. Tacticians depend mostly on Intelligence, not Charisma for motivational speeches etc. and may have two sets of squad tactics, switching between the two with a drill. And yes, the archetype gets a contingency plan. the Tactician can be VERY strong, as it essentially has a gestalty-squad. Tyrants use fear-based tactics and intimidation, while warbringers are the bloodthirsty barbarian warlords. On a nitpicky side, I don't think "Blood Rage" is a smart way of naming an ability, with the bloodrager out there.

The pdf also provides an alternate class, the hordelord, who must be evil, gets d8, 4+Int skills, proficiency with light armor, scythes and simple weapons and arcane spell failure in better armor. The class gets 1/2 BAB-progression as well as fort- and will-saves. Instead of a squad, the hordelord receives a unit of zombies that pretty much follows the rules for squads, with the exception that dispersal is handled differently and that replacements require only a ritual and some monetary investment. Hordelords receive channel energy as a cleric of their level and command undead as a bonus feat at 1st level. Hordelords get spontaneous spellcasting of up to 6th level, governed by Cha, but restrict their spell-selection to necromancy spells and those with the fear and death-descriptors. In a nice catch, the pdf does specify the priority sequence for spells that can be found on multiple lists with different spell levels. The hordelord also receives a kind of adaptation of squad tactics at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, with some unique tactics thrown into the mix. (The question-mark glitch also can be found here, btw.) At 2nd level, the class also receives the path of depravity, a bloodline-like modification that further provides bonuses at 9th and 16th level - 3 such paths are provided. Increased and trampling zombies, killing off zombies to power your spells and becoming a scythe-wielding master of the undead - all covered. It should btw. be noted that the zombie horde does NOT suffer from the usual staggered-issue of the shambling undead.

The pdf also provides 2 pages of feats with extra class feature-uses, class feature upgrades, combat maneuvers, excluding allies from swarm attacks, etc. - a solid array of feats. The final page covers interaction of Leadership feat and general and lists the troop-subtype's characteristics for your convenience.

Part II of my review is in the product discussion. See you there!


Ultimate Commander Review

5/5

The latest in the Ultimate series from Legendary Games, Ultimate Commander is a step in a new direction from the previous entries, which mainly expanded on the kingdom-building and mass combat rules presented in Paizo's Ultimate Campaign. The PDF and book proper is 42 pages long, with 28 of those pages devoted to the 'meat' and the rest the OGL, credits, table of contents, etc. However, we get quite a bit in those 28 pages.

Ultimate Commander introduces us to a new class, the General. This is a class that attempts something that has not been previously done in Pathfinder, creating a character whose main ability is the control and command of a troop. Troops were introduced a few years back in Adventure Path #71 as a way of keeping low-level opponents a threat to high level characters by having them fight as a unit. In effect, it's a swarm for non-vermin. It was a strikingly original idea but little has been done with it since.

Until now. Starting from 1st level the General gets to command their own troop, called the squad here. They are treated as a single creature, much like an animal companion, for purpose of feats and hit dice and damage inflicted, though they get better at all three as the General rises in level. From the start they can use shields to increase their AC or use their squad weapon in both hands to increase damage.

They're also immune to single-target spells and can't be flanked, though they can take critical hits and be sneak attacked. Spells that affect an area or more than one person can hurt the squad badly. And if it takes enough damage it disperses, making it very difficult for the General to turn them into a useful fighting group again. Squad damage is divided into casualties and morale, and you can't treat them both the same. The usual kinds of healing work for casualties, but for morale (which is the bigger part of damage) the General has to give a motivating speech, one of the class features. If things get bad enough the General has to go recruiting to repair the damage done to his squad, and tables and DCs are thoughtfully provided for all of this.

The squad is very useful even from the start, but it has to be carefully managed and treated to make sure it stays useful. And much of thus is on the General. It's like an animal companion or eidolon, though differing from both -- the other characters can help, but in the end it's up to the General to make sure the squad stays functional and helpful.

Getting on to the General, they start with some simple commands, mainly for the squad to attack. The General also learns new commands time goes on, enabling the squad to swarm attack more than one enemy, assist him or other allies in flank attacks, and to aid the general in her own attacks. The General also gets special tactics they can use with the squad, allowing it to do things like learn to use crossbows and volley fire them, learn to use pikes, develop guerrilla tactics, shield-breaking, skirmishing, siege tactics, how to hit harder and more accurately, etc. It's not quite everything (some mounted combat tactics would have been welcome), but you get a LOT of options over time for how to use the squad. Eventually the General can have members of the squad sacrifice themselves to save her or fight to the bitter end. And she can share any magical bonuses and special abilities she gets from her weapons with theirs.

The General also gets certain stratagems she can use with her fellow adventurers, allowing for bonuses on saves, attacks, damage, etc. You can also learn things like how to enable an ally to strike for nonlethal damage or share teamwork feats. I have to say that the list seems kind of short and the bonuses don't scale with level, which feels odd for these sort of class abilities, but they're all good. A few more genius stratagems would have been good, though, as if you stick to the General class all the way to the end you'll run through the whole list.

The General develops several abilities that play more into the kingdom building rules, especially the expanded version we got in the other Ultimate books. For example, if the General is the kingdom's general, they allow for more armies and elites to be raised (as seen in Ultimate Battle) and for the troops to cost less consumption, and be trained faster. They also provide a better bonus to the Loyalty score. Over time they get even better at this, becoming a near-legend and making the armies under their command even more dangerous and skilled. They also get bonuses on the Leadership feat if taken, together with a small section in the back explaining how this can be especially useful to a multi-class General.

The General also gets additional bonuses to their Profession (soldier) skill over time, which they use for many of their class abilities like recruiting soldiers and commanding in battle. They also learn how to use it to develop contacts, and get better at using social skills to cultivate those contacts and other allies as well.

So that's the General and the squad. There are several archetypes in the book as well, with standouts like the criminal Kingpin who rules a nation's underworld, the malicious Mindbender who uses charm and dominate spells to control their flunkies, the intellectual Tactician who depends more on brains than charisma to win battles (hello, Grand Admiral Thrawn), and the brutal Tyrant and Warmonger, depending respectively on fear and bloodlust to inspire the troops.

Few of them can match the alternate class Hordelord for sheer creepiness, however.

Who? Oh, well, remember those zombie apocalypse movies? The Hordelord is a living person who controls their very own zombie horde. Most of what was said above about the General applies here, with the exception that the horde consists of undead and the Hordelord gets less people-motivating abilities and develops necromantic magic instead. They can also choose one of three Paths of Depravity, each of which provides its own unique slant on just why you'd be running around with a horde of zombies in the first place. The Master with his even bigger zombie horde; the Path of Night with its focus on necromancy; and the Path of the Reaper that feeds on souls -- all of them very great and so very vile! And the capstone ability turns the Hordelord into an undead of their choice. Even better!

At the end of the book we get some new feats and one repeat from the Inner Sea World Guide, the Flagbearer feat. It seems to be either misprinted or altered, with bonuses that once applied to all attacks now limited to attacks of opportunity. However it's still effective and the new feats expand on the General's abilities and allow some new options.

So there you have the General. The class seems best used in campaigns where kingdom-building and mas combat as the focus, but it has more than enough flexibility to be useful elsewhere. It allows for you to make a character who brings their own huscarls or landsknecht or retainers along on their adventuring career, and yet who will not dominate campaign time with their gang of NPC characters. And the Hordelord could make for a whole campaign of heroic PCs confronting hordes of ravaging undead and their mortal masters. I'm going with five stars and a recommendation for one of the best RPG books I've seen all year!


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This is a great product, and I truly enjoy it, but I hope this one has the corrected chart for the general's troop.


This your class, Will/Cheapy?


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Thanks Liz!

Eric, thank you for the words. I recall Jason saying that he'd submit the work to Paizo once the table was fixed, so I believe it will be fixed. Spoiler: the squad does go to level 20.

Oceanshieldwolf, this is a class that I and Linda Zayas-Palmer designed, yes.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I agree with Eric, this is one sweet book, nice work from the authors, and a truly worthy inclusion to the LG Ultimate plug-ins line which has always found a way to present rules I didn't know I needed.

Well done, Legendary Games!

(I'm looking forward to writing a review of this one a lot.)


Thanks Chemlak. We were quite excited when we came up with the idea, and knew it would be a great fit in this line. We're looking forward to reading the review!


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I have picked up the book earlier in the week through Legendary Games' website (in addition to a heck of a lot of other titles thanks to their GOBLIN sale) and I really enjoy the flavour of the General. I am running the Kingmaker AP currently and this book is just perfect for that campaign.

I noticed that the table for the Squad was cut short as well, along with a small handful of grammar and punctuation errors. It feels odd to see the errors but it does not take that much energy to do the corrections in my head so it is an hurdle that is easily passed.

The only other thing that I can comment about in some detail is regarding the mechanics of the content described within. I really like how the designers discuss early on how to handle the concept of a squad that is supposed to function much like an animal companion or familiar. The concept of the squad makes me feel like the General is similar to a main character in a game like Dragon Age and the squad are the people that joins him/her in the quest to save the world. The people in the squad can be fleshed out in terms of personalities or maybe even romanced, if you like, but you never have to worry about whether or not they actually eat, drink, sleep, or even use the washroom.

As a General, you don't even have to worry about what gear the squad has either; what matters is your own gear and that is all the micro-managing you should have to worry about. :)

Kudos to all involved in the development and designing of this product. While it *might* not get as much use for my players, I certainly will be using it for some of the npcs in the Kingmaker AP I am running.

Cheers!

CB out


Will McCardell wrote:

Thanks Liz!

Eric, thank you for the words. I recall Jason saying that he'd submit the work to Paizo once the table was fixed, so I believe it will be fixed. Spoiler: the squad does go to level 20.

Oceanshieldwolf, this is a class that I and Linda Zayas-Palmer designed, yes.

I guess those of us who bought the book through the Legendary Games site will be getting an e-mail with the corrected tables and such? Like others have said, it's not a major problem but they would be nice to have.

And I want to wait until I get the physical copy before I try writing my own review. Like Chemlak said, this is one book that deserves as many positive reviews as it can get.

Thank you very much for what you created here; if this is any sample of what can be expected from both yourself and Legendary Games in the area of new classes I'm definitely going to be keeping my eyes open for them.


Thank you both! Linda has some other books out with Legendary Games as well, namely Treasury of the Kingdoms (and Pirate Codex too!).

And CB, you've definitely hit the nail on the head for how we wanted it to work. Actually getting a number of men would need a spreadsheet of sorts to keep track of, and we wanted to hit all the high notes of this concept with minimizing the any headaches.


Will McCardell wrote:

Thank you both! Linda has some other books out with Legendary Games as well, namely Treasury of the Kingdoms (and Pirate Codex too!).

And CB, you've definitely hit the nail on the head for how we wanted it to work. Actually getting a number of men would need a spreadsheet of sorts to keep track of, and we wanted to hit all the high notes of this concept with minimizing the any headaches.

I'll definitely recommend Treasury of the Kingdom to anyone who wants some magic items that are meant for a kingdom building and ruling campaign. Her work in it is very well done and I loved the originality, like the little magical watchtowers and the magical plow to make farms more productive -- really, that's the kind of thing that non-adventurers would be looking for, and that a realm of any size could use!

And pardon my asking but has any progress been made on getting the physical copies of the book out to those of us who bought them through the LG site? Or the corrected PDF?

Dark Archive

Starfinder Superscriber

dot

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Eric Hinkle wrote:
Will McCardell wrote:

Thank you both! Linda has some other books out with Legendary Games as well, namely Treasury of the Kingdoms (and Pirate Codex too!).

And CB, you've definitely hit the nail on the head for how we wanted it to work. Actually getting a number of men would need a spreadsheet of sorts to keep track of, and we wanted to hit all the high notes of this concept with minimizing the any headaches.

I'll definitely recommend Treasury of the Kingdom to anyone who wants some magic items that are meant for a kingdom building and ruling campaign. Her work in it is very well done and I loved the originality, like the little magical watchtowers and the magical plow to make farms more productive -- really, that's the kind of thing that non-adventurers would be looking for, and that a realm of any size could use!

And pardon my asking but has any progress been made on getting the physical copies of the book out to those of us who bought them through the LG site? Or the corrected PDF?

Hi Eric,

I thought I had sent the books out already to those who had bought them. My mistake. I'll get those going today!

EDIT: Updated PDFs and print copies sent! Thanks for the reminder.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Jason Nelson wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Will McCardell wrote:

Thank you both! Linda has some other books out with Legendary Games as well, namely Treasury of the Kingdoms (and Pirate Codex too!).

And CB, you've definitely hit the nail on the head for how we wanted it to work. Actually getting a number of men would need a spreadsheet of sorts to keep track of, and we wanted to hit all the high notes of this concept with minimizing the any headaches.

I'll definitely recommend Treasury of the Kingdom to anyone who wants some magic items that are meant for a kingdom building and ruling campaign. Her work in it is very well done and I loved the originality, like the little magical watchtowers and the magical plow to make farms more productive -- really, that's the kind of thing that non-adventurers would be looking for, and that a realm of any size could use!

And pardon my asking but has any progress been made on getting the physical copies of the book out to those of us who bought them through the LG site? Or the corrected PDF?

Hi Eric,

I thought I had sent the books out already to those who had bought them. My mistake. I'll get those going today!

EDIT: Updated PDFs and print copies sent! Thanks for the reminder.

Thanks for the revised PDF and the book, I got the first and am looking forward to the latter. And I'll have to run off a copy of the PDF so I can refer to it for a review.


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I was extremely excited about this product when I first bought. I could finally play the brilliant tactician and general I always wanted to. Then I realized I could re-skin this into Squirrel Girl for myself and a crazy cat lady for my girlfriend. After that, I was ecstatic.

Legendary Games: Making dreams come true.


fafnir_bane wrote:

I was extremely excited about this product when I first bought. I could finally play the brilliant tactician and general I always wanted to. Then I realized I could re-skin this into Squirrel Girl for myself and a crazy cat lady for my girlfriend. After that, I was ecstatic.

Legendary Games: Making dreams come true.

:D

That sort of thing was exactly what we wished to show with the zombie horde version of the class: With a few tweaks, the idea of the troop could be applied to many other things. Glad it's helped you realize a few of your dreams (even if you didn't realize you had them until now!)

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

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We also have in production more variants of the general, including a pied piper/animal horde version as well as a fey-master version. Probably not coming until sometime after GenCon, but definitely in the works!


Let me make sure I understand this: the book is based on the troop subtype from Rasputin Must Die!, am I correct?


Yes, the central mechanic is a modification of the troop subtype that works better in player hands.


Question: Does this include some rules/adaptations so that players who are not generals can control squads?


That actually gets to something we struggled with with this class, namely the name. We went through many names (personal favorite: The Big Cheese) as we wanted to avoid the connotation that this was for military campaigns only, but at the end of the day, "the general" was the best term for this that encapsulated their abilities better than any other.

Suffice to say, your character does not need to be in a military to use this class. A number of the archetypes focus on different types of people who would be leading a group of soldiers. For example, there's the mindbender who has her troop under thrall. A leader of a crime organization. A crusader leading her faith's warriors against her deity's enemies. And a number more.

There's also an archetype, the Rallier, the trades out all the kingdom building mechanics as well.

So, long story short, this class will work in non-military campaigns just as well as military campaigns.


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Just posted a review for this amazing book and I hope it brings in some sales. It deserves them!

I will admit to some confusion about the skirmishing tactic on page 13.

First it says that you get a pool of dice equal to 1d6.. Does this mean you roll 1d6 for the damage done, or that you roll 1d6 to see how many dice of damage you get? I'm guessing the latter because it also says that the dice for damage are to be divided between the two 20-foot lines affected. Though that seems like the potential for an awful lot of damage there, especially given that the dice rolled for the pool increase at 4th and every third level afterwards.

Also, with the 'two 20-foot lines extending from any corner starting in the squad's space', are these lines running horizontally, across the front of the squad, or vertically, away from the squad? Or can they be either?

I hope I can soon get the answer that will explain what I'm missing or mistaken about here. I also hope we can get even a small release in the future covering things like additional extraordinary tactics and genius stratagems, I would love to see some more of those. This is a great book!


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Thanks for the review, Eric!

To answer your questions:

Flagbearer was indeed altered here. We thought it fit well, but that as written it'd be a bit too good.

Skirmishing is sort of a different way of damage than anything else in the system, so here is how it is supposed to work:

You have a dice pool. It's comprised of a number of d6s. If you get the tactic as soon as possible, your dice pool will have 1d6 in it. You also get 2 lines when you use this. Each line will do 2 points of damage, and you can assign any number of the dice from the dice pool to either line. If taken ASAP, that basically means you'll have 2 lines, one that does 1d6+2 damage, 1 that does 2 damage. Once you get a 2nd d6 in the dice pool, you could have 1 line that does 2d6+2 and the other doing 2, or two lines that do 1d6+2, etc etc.

The lines will follow the usual rules for line effects, same as spells. So, act like someone in the troop's squares is casting lightning bolt, and resolve it that way. :) Hopefully that helps.


Will McCardell wrote:

Thanks for the review, Eric!

To answer your questions:

Flagbearer was indeed altered here. We thought it fit well, but that as written it'd be a bit too good.

Skirmishing is sort of a different way of damage than anything else in the system, so here is how it is supposed to work:

You have a dice pool. It's comprised of a number of d6s. If you get the tactic as soon as possible, your dice pool will have 1d6 in it. You also get 2 lines when you use this. Each line will do 2 points of damage, and you can assign any number of the dice from the dice pool to either line. If taken ASAP, that basically means you'll have 2 lines, one that does 1d6+2 damage, 1 that does 2 damage. Once you get a 2nd d6 in the dice pool, you could have 1 line that does 2d6+2 and the other doing 2, or two lines that do 1d6+2, etc etc.

The lines will follow the usual rules for line effects, same as spells. So, act like someone in the troop's squares is casting lightning bolt, and resolve it that way. :) Hopefully that helps.

Ah, thank you for explaining that.


Just purchased it and I plan on reading it soon. I very much hope that things are going great, Jason. I also have high hopes for that Ultimate Mercenary (?) book that you plan on doing sometime. Seriously can't wait to use that in a game.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

Kickstarter has been beating up my writer hat all week but I am about ready to get back on the wagon. First up in the queue is Legendary Rogues, and I'll be grinding through as quickly as I can!


Many thanks to Endzeitgeist for the review!

I definitely see what you meant about the Hordelord being mostly engine tweaks, so if we ever work on some additional alternative classes, we'll definitely keep that in mind. To a certain extent though, being mostly engine tweaks was partially the intent. It was partially to show off how the concept of the squad could be applied to other ideas, to whet the appetite for what's possible if you just tweak the squad mechanic a bit. Probably should've added a note to that effect though!


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Part II of my review

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches, only some very minor glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf provides ample gorgeous full-color artworks, some of which may be familiar to fans of Legendary Games. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Will McCardell and Linda Zayas-Palmer make for an excellent team - after their superb and impressive demiurge-class, the general manages to achieve an unprecedented feat in blending personal and kingdom-level adventuring, spanning the gap between the two. When I first heard about this pdf, I expected a lot of undue overlap with Michael Sayre's cool Battle Lord, perhaps the most interesting adventurer-group commander I've seen so far. Instead of going that route, the general does something wholly unique, not only providing perfect synergy with kingdom building and mass combat, it also is distinct n that it makes adventuring with a troop of allies a valid option - hey, perhaps your players actually provide names for the squad members! Whether Bridgeburners or Black Company, the general has significant narrative potential that surprisingly is supplemented by tactical options beyond the scope of other classes - not necessarily in power, but in the breadth - battlefield control via earth-lowering etc. make for damn awesome tricks, for example. The fluid flux from the personal to the abstract dimension make this an achievement in design that proved to eb exceedingly fun to play, more so than many pet-classes I have seen. The synergy with Ultimate Rulership and Battle further enhance this.

So all absolutely awesome? As far as the base-class is concerned, yes. Now I'm not saying that the archetypes and alternate class are bad, far from it. However, I would have enjoyed the zombie horde to be more distinct - it didn't feel very zombie-ish to me - no staggered condition, no consumption of foes, no instant regain of casualties, no increased amount of members/area covered.... that and the VERY similar scaling of the squad's stats (being almost carbon copies) render the horde and its master a reskin that falls woefully short of being truly distinct. When the hordelord should have had me cackle with glee, it disappointed me as a minor reskin with some basic modifications. More paths would also have helped here. So that would be missed chance one. Some of the archetypes provided also feel very basic, with only a few truly blowing me away. That being said, I am pretty nitpicky here and ultimately, these gripes are not necessarily fair - why? Because both archetypes and alternate class provide imho less of a distinct, unique identity - they are system/engine-tweaks for the class. Basically, they serve to highlight a significant array of possible modifications for the general-chassis and thus can be considered guidelines to modify and adapt the base engine of the class - which is superb.

"But wait", you say, "I don't want to play with kingdom-building!" - you're lucky. While the general is intended for the like, just letting these fall under the rug does not impede the performance of the class - the general can be played without those rules and is still a powerful class. Since the kingdom-building/mass-combat abilities do not influence regular adventuring, you won't lose any power, just some of the experiences that render the class so incredibly awesome.

I've been thinking quite a bit about the final verdict here - on the one hand, we get a superb class that is mechanically truly distinct and innovative; on the other hand, the supplemental content did fall flat of the potential and uniqueness of the class, being essentially an array of engine-tweaks that provide options galore, yes, but on their own, they will not make you gush. So I waited for the playtest and asked about the fun-level this class provides - and here, the general excels. While I am not impressed by most of the supplemental content beyond their functionality as engine-tweaks, there are some gems herein and ultimately, no problems worth complaining about. More importantly, the general itself is a piece of beauty and genius - it is fun, both in regular and kingdom-building campaigns, utilizes several jamais-vu-level innovative mechanics and manages to proudly place its banner where no other class has tread before - and ultimately, I love it for that and recommend it wholeheartedly. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval....now can we have more kingdom-synergy-classes? Ultimate Kings and Queens, for example?

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Also: Thank you for the linkage, Will!

Endzeitgeist out.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I'm just double checking because it doesn't come right out and say it, and since it does adjust the standard Troop subtype I'd rather be right than wrong, the General's Squad still automatically does its' Troop damage to all opponents who share the Squad's square or are adjacent to them correct?

I also don't see it anywhere but does their base damage die never increase? I saw that the crossbow damage does with their volley.

I'm kinda sad that it sidelines gear for the squad entirely. It'd be kinda cool to turn to your 12 subordinates and give them all matching weapons as members of your personal elite squad and have it mean something mechanically as well.


It's a heavily modified version of the Troop subtype. Really, more of a spiritual successor. They do not do their troop attack damage automatically. That got turned into the Swarm command, where it uses their level as the auto damage. In that sense, it does scale, but only when you give the specific command.

The base damage die doesn't ever increase. Instead of increasing the damage like a swarm or troop does, their increased damage comes from increases to-hit, iteratives, and methods that everyone else uses.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Ahh so they do get iteratives. Yeah I was confused looking at it just a bit on some of the minutiae on some of the differences between Troop subtype and Troop companion. Does that mean when you use the Attack command they determine their available iteratives using the General's lvl. So at level 6 they'd have 2 attacks, doing 1d8+Str+1(1/4 Gen lvl). Also the Troop can attack without the attack command like any other companion right? They just use their normal BaB and lose the attack command bonus.


Yep! It's almost better to ignore the troop subtype. Think of them like an animal companion. Just one made up of a bunch of tough dudettes and dudes.

So they get their own attacks, but the Squad Commands increase their capabilities in a few ways. The catch being you're trading your own actions for making the troop better.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Right. As the designer do you think it would be unbalancing if a player wanted to outfit their Troop? For instance if the troop took Exotic weapon (Bastard Sword) and the player bought every member one sword and a heavy shield. Would that warrant a die change up to 1d10? Or was that sidelined as being a power increase to avoid, or was it sidelined as just being too messy an issue.

I was looking at doing an NPC in an upcoming game using this class and having the troop represent the "Honor guard" and all use the same weapon as the NPC himself.


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Well, unofficially, I think it'd be fine for that case, although if they took other damaging tactics, I'd keep them at d8. It's feat for an effective +1 damage increase. You can also just say they have bastard swords, but some also have daggers that they use now and then, and then between pommelsmacks and thrown elbows, that accounts for the B,P, and S damage type.

The other reason Linda and I went with this model was because it ensured we could have better handle on the balance. When we removed the possibility of outfitting your own troop, it meant that the class wouldn't get massively more powerful or weak based on the wealth that the party got, which is a factor we can't really control. We wanted to take a complex concept, someone in charge of a bunch of people, and take away as many of the the aspects that made the archetypical idea difficult to run without massive spreadsheets. And part of that included outfitting the troop personally. (And paying them, although we experimented with that a bit and Linda made a great system for how to handle it.)

One thing I'd recommend though is to sort of divorce yourself from the thinking that it's exactly like an NPC. It's fine to just say "Yes, they all have bastard swords", without giving them the feat. The squad weapon is never really specified, so it can be whatever you want. In the base adventure that introduced the troop subtype, the auto-damage represented rifle buts, elbows, knives, bayonets, and the occasional-probably-too-close-pistol fire. It was just whatever the troop had in hand.

Fluid Tactics would probably help though, letting them switch easier between two-handing the bastard swords, and using them one-handed with shields.

In the game I'm playing in, I have a General that leads a group of half-elfs that are outfitted with a mix of longswords, falcatas, shields, crossbows, and shovels. Their squad name is the Ditch Diggers, which is somehow a term of honor given our nascent kingdom.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Sounds reasonable. I agree that personally outfitting your troop could make things get wildly out of hand in regards to damage. While it'd be cool to do so I agree with it being a GM call and avoiding it when possible to prevent possible inflation.


If you do go ahead with that encounter, let us know how it goes! We'd love to hear.


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Great review as always, End. And secondly:

Endzeitgeist wrote:
now can we have more kingdom-synergy-classes? Ultimate Kings and Queens, for example?

I would so love to see this. They don't even have to be classes as such, just archetypes, provided we can get a small book on how the different classes approach ruling kingdoms and leading armies. I know it would have to be rather generic in many ways, character personality and alignment would play at least as big a role as class, but I'd still love to see it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Absolutely Cheapy, I have two encounters planned for this class. One is the Honor Guard the other is a Cavalry Troop and their Commander. Once I have 'em run I'll post up how they went.


Soooo, when do we get a hero lab version of this one... :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think I can safely say that the answer to that is "when some enterprising soul manages to make it".

The chance of LWD actually building it are pretty much zero, and the chances of LG paying for it as anything less than a mega-bundle of their work is slim-to-none.

Might be worth chatting to ShadowChemosh on the LWD forums about approaches to making the class, but he's a busy guy so probably can't find the time to do it himself, and my knowledge of HL scripting is far too limited to even try, but you might find someone who can do it, and if Jason's okay with it, it might even become available for public download. Which would be awesome.

Shadow Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Any word on a hardcover compilation yet Mr Nelson?

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

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Cat-thulhu wrote:
Any word on a hardcover compilation yet Mr Nelson?

At minimum, I'd have to finish Ultimate Armies first, and we also have Ultimate Factions percolating around to flesh out sub-rulership groups within a kingdom, so I am guessing it will still be a while before we do a compilation.

We are focusing now on trying to wind up the compilations that are closer to complete, like Pirate, Far East, and River Kings.

Alas that there are only so many hours in the day.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

Joshua Borlase wrote:
Soooo, when do we get a hero lab version of this one... :)

Hi there,

I just noticed this note. The short answer is as Chemlak stated, once we have someone able to do it. But the longer answer is that LWD has been pretty cool on doing a lot of small projects in the past. Their system architecture is such that adding things in, especially things that don't follow the standard rules very closely (like a class with a troop that doesn't exactly use equipment) creates a lot of issues interfacing with the system, since it has to work with everything and everything has to work with it.

Also, in terms of sales vs. work required, they've always been of the opinion that larger pieces sell better than smaller pieces, so they've focused on HL conversions of bigger projects (200-300 page hardbacks rather than 30-40 page class books).

HOWEVER, I've heard that LWD may be making some substantial changes next year as far as how adding things to the system works that may make it easier for smaller pieces like a single class like this.

Exactly how that shakes out, we'll have to wait and see. If what I've heard turns out to be true, though, we might see an HL version of the class sooner than we thought.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jason Nelson wrote:
[...] and we also have Ultimate Factions percolating around to flesh out sub-rulership groups within a kingdom [...]

*cracks whip at author of Ultimate Factions*

;)


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Chemlak wrote:
Jason Nelson wrote:
[...] and we also have Ultimate Factions percolating around to flesh out sub-rulership groups within a kingdom [...]

*cracks whip at author of Ultimate Factions*

;)

Seconded


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Jason Nelson wrote:

I'd have to finish Ultimate Armies first, and we also have Ultimate Factions percolating around to flesh out sub-rulership groups within a kingdom, so I am guessing it will still be a while before we do a compilation.

I'm looking forward to both of these.

BTW, is there a proper place on the forums to ask about things like the best 20-pt build for a half-orc member of this class? I keep wondering if one should emphasize the physical or mental characteristics.

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

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You certainly could ask it here. I can point Linda and Cheapy to this thread and see if they have any thoughts, but other fans might as well.


Jason Nelson wrote:
You certainly could ask it here. I can point Linda and Cheapy to this thread and see if they have any thoughts, but other fans might as well.

Okay, (if someone wishes to respond) then what is the best 20-point build for a half orc commander?


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This forum is for character advice on 3rd party stuff, so it's probably a good place to ask such questions. But here works too!

Linda's and my goal for this was to allow for multiple types of builds with the class, so it really depends on what you're looking for. We wanted to support a few different types of commanders with this, the chief two being the the leader from the front that leads by example and would probably focus on more physical abilities, and the leader from the rear that could focus more on mental abilities (and some physical ones), and give her troop commands. Internally, I believe we referred to the former as the Badass, and the latter as the General. It's been a bit, but I believe there was also a split between Charisma and Intelligence for the General type, namely through the Tactician archetype to use Intelligence in place of Charisma. The Strategist archetype is compatible with the Tactician too, and it goes further in replacing abilities associated with the Badass, allowing for some hybridization if you wish.

As general (ha.) advice, I'd suggest at least 12 Charisma regardless of the type you want to be (unless you use Int instead), so you can use Motivational Speech an additional time, especially if you start at a low level. The troop is pretty easy to hit until you teach them some ways to avoid damage or be in a more advantageous position, so being able to heal them after combat will be key. Silly soldiers think it's fine to be next to 4 orcs at once!

For the character (Strategist archetype only) I played, I believe I focused on Strength, some Constitution, and then I think Charisma and Dex in equal amounts, as I wanted the option at least to switch between ranged and melee.


Thank you for the advice, Mister McCardell.


Jason Nelson wrote:
Cat-thulhu wrote:
Any word on a hardcover compilation yet Mr Nelson?
At minimum, I'd have to finish Ultimate Armies first, and we also have Ultimate Factions percolating around to flesh out sub-rulership groups within a kingdom, so I am guessing it will still be a while before we do a compilation.

Percolate, percolate

Almost finished. Example factions are partially done, and then it's on to finishing touches before sending it to Jason. Current plan is "by this weekend", depending on how well my wife nags me about it, and how poorly my son is.

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