Nixing Mass Combat


Kingmaker

Shadow Lodge

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To avoid taking over Magical Beast's thread, I'll just move this discussion over here. Sorry for the derail MB!

So as stated in the prior topic, my players have voted four-to-one to scrap mass combat entirely. Which, I don't blame them. Any mass combat system complex enough to be interesting will likely be a pain in the neck for us to learn, and the extremely simplistic one packaged with Kingmaker/Book of the River Kings doesn't have the detail and complexity wanted by the one player who wants mass combat and is sluggish and boring for the rest of the group.

What they'd rather have is a system in which they get to be the superheroes that Pathfinder PCs level 5+ are supposed to be - shock troops and one-wo/men armies who can stand their ground against entire hordes of lesser opponents. And, for situations over even their head, the option and opportunity to find, mentor, and train NPCs with similar superior potential to fight alongside them in the "small army" of their kingdom.

Well, it certainly supports the Royals Who Actually Do Something trope. =)

While this saves me having to learn a new mechanical system, it also requires me to replace the mass combat sections of the story with massive fields of mook soldiers, preferably with a handful of superior general "boss fights" for the party to actually have difficulty with after mowing through or fireballing down the mass of enemy forces. From what I remember, the places where Mass Combat is a big thing are in Chapter 4 (where there's some barbarian gangs, if I recall?) and Chapter 5 (versus Pitax).

For the Barbarians, I'm heavily considering just using the 3.5 Mob Template to create massive enemy swarms for the party to fight. For Pitax though, they're more likely to have regimented soldiers who will hold the lines and fight in a more traditional warfare manner. By this point, also, Irovetti (or in my game, Havelock) would be well aware of the party's shock trooper techniques and have prepared ways to face off against it, either trying to overwhelm them with sheer numbers or to face them with equally-few but superior forces of his own.

Thoughts? And any scenes I missed?


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The attempted sacking of Tatzylford in Chapter 4 is the first scripted chance. If you're incorporating the Hargulka kingdom on the southern border with Mivon this crops up much earlier.

Massed ranks of regimented troops could be built around the "1 in 20 rule": 1 in 20 is always a crit, 1 in 400 is always a confirmed crit, every round, per 400 mooks - thus every round 400 mooks slips in a confirmed critical hit and 19 regular hits. A regiment of 2,000 men equates to the PCs eating 5 confirmed critical hits and 395 regular hits by arrow per round. Nat 20, confirmed with another nat 20. If you do the "nat 20, nat 20, confirm = death" option, then a PC simply dies due to pincushioning on the army level (4+ regiments = 8,000+) when being mowed down by massed arrow volleys.

If Pitax has 5 regiments (10,000 men) that's 25 confirmed critical arrow hits plus an additional 475 regular arrow hits per round, presumably divvied up amongst the PCs. Presumably all the other arrows won't be packing a high enough attack bonus to matter otherwise. 550d8 piercing spread amongst the targetable PCs isn't too bad. ^____^ Assuming a flat 4 is rolled per d8, that's 2,200 damage ... 4 against a field army = 4 dead men!

Area effects simply destroy a man per square of effect on the line. It is likely that, given the "shock trooper tactics", regimental lines won't be more than 2 men deep (shield man on front, longspear/pikeman behind) before there is at least a 30' gap between the first line and the next precisely to reduce or eliminate being in 'fireball formation'.

Rear lines are primarily projectile weapons users, with shield, shortsword, spear and dagger as backup. If a particular rear line sees its front eliminated, they "convert" to a new front line on that front and move forward, the rest of their line firing and moving into position.

The only way for Pitax to deal with shock trooper PCs hosing down their armies with battlefield control is to send along a few competent shock troopers of their own to dispatch as quickly as possible the cloudkills, walls, fog banks and magically flung tornadoes/whirlwinds/et al that would make short work of the typical pseudo-medieval army. Pitax might lose as much as a regiment in this fashion - better still if they observe others losing regiments to the PCs, allowing Pitax to better tailor their own tactics. Counterspelling really comes into its own on the battlefield!

All that having been said, the simplest strategy Pitax can use is divide and conquer. They can send an army the long way 'round through the hinterlands of the River Kingdoms (bypassing Mivon) to shank the PCs kingdom on the eastern flank with an army that must be faced and dealt with or they'll start losing cities. If Pitax times things right, they'll be able to seal the deal with first sacking Drelev on the PCs' west flank before marching across the Wyvernstone to sack the northwestern cities, perhaps even sending another force around the Slough to sack any southwestern cities.

If the bulk of the armies are at least decently drilled in focused fire tactics (much easier than massed volley I would think) with a few low level casters along packing see invisibility, glitterdust, faerie fire, gust of wind, a dispel magic or two from a higher-CL scroll to disperse the "flying death" casters and their beloved cloudkills and stinking clouds. 5th level casters are relatively prevalent, very affordable for their services and can fairly reliably pull off substantially higher CL checks for scrolls.

The main army will likely have the Big Honchos of Pitax along - the generals etc - comprising the penultimate Pitax encounter before the heroes besiege the city with thier conscript army and assault the King's Palace.

Shadow Lodge

Eeeeexcellent. I'm using Dudemeister's Monster Kingdom rewrite of RRR, so I'll probably give them a warm-up exposure to the idea by pitting them against a small Troll army attacking their city, then a Troll army with Lizardfolk archers when they head for Hargulka's lair. That should give them an idea of the kinds of odds they'll be dealing with when they elect this tactic over traditional warfare - difficult, probably painful, but not insurmountable with preparation and tactics, especially at higher levels.

A slightly larger, slightly more organized combat is also possible if they initiate hostilities with the tribe in Chapter 3, then the true civilized armies show up in Chapters 4 and 5.

Keep 'em coming =D

Lantern Lodge

I keep reading the thread title as Nixies in mass combat and want to see them coming out of the Hooktounge Slough to drown their enemies in mass like the Mermaids in the 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

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Turin:

I don't think you meant 400 confirmed critical hits and 19 regular hits. I think that was supposed to be 1 and 19. Just wanted to point it out in case that confused anyone.

Also, archers wouldn't all be aiming at one person. In a large group like that, not all of them would be able to. Instead, they fire a volley and create an area of effect. While this isn't in the rules so to speak, this would type of ruling would prevent your own PCs from just creating a massive archer army that follows them around and hangs out behind them.

I recently allowed the PCs to take and use 15 kobold archers to assult the trolls. 15 kobold archers took out 3 trolls in about two rounds because each kobold was equipped with +1 flaming arrows and they were aiming at specific targets. Because I don't want the PCs to take advantage of that sort of tactic and I don't want to be able to kill the PCs with that sort of tactic, I am going to have archer units only be able to create area of effects.

Focused fire could be done, but it would still be something of an area effect, just a smaller area with greater damage.

Orthos:

I plan on making my own mass combat system. Something that adapts the mob template and my ship boarding rules (In Wayfinder #8), but makes the battles more cinematic. I like the battle point system used in Part 4 when an army attacks Tatzlford. Something like that, to me, would be able to handle the complexity of your player's desire while remaining simple enough that it wouldn't slow down to sluggish crawl.

Something like that could also allow players to fight on their own instead of leading a unit, targeting the opposing armies elites and officers to gain more battle points. However, doing so would be risky (at least I would want to make it so) because even a small unit shouldn't be underestimated.

As for magic, Turin did well in pointing out how to handle it. Having a small unit that focuses on handling spellcasters will ensure that the god like powers any spellcasting PC/NPC have aren't used to wipe out entire armies. This could be as simple as a group of sniper archers who rain down arrows to disrupt spellcasting to a group of wizards who keep an eye out for spells to dispel or spellcasters to counterspell.

I don't know when I will be able to work on my own mass combat system. I am finishing up a castle building system to add to kingdom building, I want to submit a few things to Wayfinder #9, and I want to submit a few things to other publications sometime soon. On top of that I am running Kingmaker, one modern game home brew, and PFS. My group just started Part 3, so I am in no rush to get it done. When I get to it, I get to it.


I didn't think I had implied that 400 shots resulted in 400 crits - merely 1 crit and 19 hits (20 arrows, presumably divided amongst the visible targets) per 400 mooks.

I do recall in one of the WotC splat books there were rules for massed arrow fire being resolved as an area effect attack. Complete Combat or somesuch? I'd go that route if I could for being on the receiving end of massed volleys.

However, if a line of archers has but one target, they can pour an awful lot of arrows into a VERY tight cylinder... Crossbowmen are less apt at indirect fire than archers, slingers are even worse (they can't as far as I know).

I would perhaps generate an AoE using a 'rule of 8' principle or somesuch if I had the surviving brain cells available at the moment.

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Othniel Edden wrote:
I keep reading the thread title as Nixies in mass combat and want to see them coming out of the Hooktounge Slough to drown their enemies in mass like the Mermaids in the 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

That shouldn't be out of the question actually. If the PCs made friends with the fey in the area, having fey units in their army would be something I would allow.

And considering that the rivers are very important and would need to be crossed, a nixie army would be something to fear.

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Turin the Mad wrote:

I didn't think I had implied that 400 shots resulted in 400 crits - merely 1 crit and 19 hits (20 arrows, presumably divided amongst the visible targets) per 400 mooks.

It looked like you had a typo.

Turin the Mad wrote:
... every round, per 400 mooks - thus every round 400 mooks slips in a confirmed critical hit and 19 regular hits.

Maybe saying "400 mooks slips in 1 confirmed critical hit and 19 regular hits."

The way you typed it made it confusing for me.


CalebTGordan wrote:
Turin the Mad wrote:

I didn't think I had implied that 400 shots resulted in 400 crits - merely 1 crit and 19 hits (20 arrows, presumably divided amongst the visible targets) per 400 mooks.

It looked like you had a typo.

Turin the Mad wrote:
... every round, per 400 mooks - thus every round 400 mooks slips in a confirmed critical hit and 19 regular hits.

Maybe saying "400 mooks slips in 1 confirmed critical hit and 19 regular hits."

The way you typed it made it confusing for me.

Ah HAH! D'oh! :) Thanks!


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CalebTGordan wrote:
As for magic, Turin did well in pointing out how to handle it. Having a small unit that focuses on handling spellcasters will ensure that the god like powers any spellcasting PC/NPC have aren't used to wipe out entire armies. This could be as simple as a group of sniper archers who rain down arrows to disrupt spellcasting to a group of wizards who keep an eye out for spells to dispel or spellcasters to counterspell.

I just had this vision of an eerily quiet battle...

1st round of combat, both sides fire a volley of arrows with silence cast
on them for a major area effect zone of silence...the rest of the battle
is visual, as no sound escapes...cool movie effect or what!


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Purely visual signaling, smokesticks flying thick and fast into the maelstrom ... silently screaming men rolling around as naptha canisters wreck havoc... beautiful.

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Magic Siege weapons could also be used to good effect. In 3.5 there were magical ballista bolts that did everything from healing everyone in the area it landed in to creating anti-magic areas on the battlefield. Catapults with explosive ammunition, trebuchet shots that ignore hardness of walls, invisible siege towers are all possible and viable options.

But we are not talking about magical warfare. We are talking about whether or not to use a mass warfare system in your game and how to handle that.


Well level five or six can still be quite fragile, four low level cav with spirited charge can take them out, certainly don't need a horde.

I like this idea more and more, whether the heroes are leading a small group of truly vet elites, or battles are the heroes leading on levies and crappy mercs alike "get them! Charrrrge!" against a lot of foes.

Makes it less grand strategy and huge armies, more the players doing all the work, which can be great fun.

As the first post notes, the problem is being countered. Yeah they get in, they lead from the front, that is all good. What if they start to lose party members? How good actually are they against 50 men each? What if they are tied up by illusions, sacrificed troops, surrounded, hammered and killed. How many arrows can they take? Do they use reach weapons, how many spells do they have or do they have to move up to everyone they kill?

Game over man.

Very very risky tactic. Will it pay off? Depends how hard you play it dm. When mid level players have tried to take Chelaxian ships or armies, I've seen them go splat.


Turin the Mad wrote:


stuff about arrows and the 1 in 20 rule

protection from arrows is a second level spell. Also if they have that many crits they should have the same amount of fumbles.

The next army tactic is a large group of magic users with magic missiles maybe even teamwork spell-casting feats. Of couse shield a first level spell stops that, but shield only lasts one minute per level and has a range of personal so the party wizard can't cast it on the whole party.

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fictionfan wrote:
Turin the Mad wrote:


stuff about arrows and the 1 in 20 rule

protection from arrows is a second level spell. Also if they have that many crits they should have the same amount of fumbles.

Fumbles wouldn't affect the results unless it was impossible to miss with all but a natural 1. In his proposed scenario, fumbles don't apply because only a natural 20 hits anyway.

If you are suggesting critical fumbles, most groups don't use them and it would be too much of a pain to try and use them with mass combat. Best to leave it at just an automatic miss and not try to tack anything extra onto it.


The more important thing is the protection from arrows.
Also if the P.C.'s aren't idots they are not just going to go on the opposite side of a field and let the shot. They are going to attack in a forest or somewhere and get close up so all those archers are firing into melee. If they work things right a lot of the army will die to friendly fire.


That's what the aforementioned scrolls of dispel magic at ~CL 10th are doing in the hands of 5th level casters - makes it real easy to strip that stuff down.


Well they are going to have a limited amount of those. The casters have to get in fairly close to use them and it's not unusual for P.C. to layer a lot of different buffs on them selfs before a fight. And considering it's a few people against a whole army they are going to be able to pick the time and place to fight.

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Only if the archery units are not trained would there be significant friendly.

Trained ranged units either fire at units not engaged in battle or fire over the fighting to rear ranks. Ranged units like archers were meant to thin out oncoming armies, not take them out completely. There are historical exceptions to this, like the Battle of Agincourt where the archers slaughtered French knights stuck in mud, but it isn't the common case.

The idea was to thin out the ranks with safe ranged attacks and then charge into melee. Once there was a risk of taking out one of your own, you either fire over your men or not fire at all. This of course had little effect on heavily armored units unless the arrows were specially made to piece armor, which is probably why the famous Spartans declared that they would fight in the shade when arrows blacked out the sun.

As for using forested terrain, it has just as bad of an effect on mounted units as it does archers. Most armies would avoid fighting in them if they had to, and you are certainly right in saying that they would be ideal cover against ranged attack.

I don't disagree with the use of protection from arrows or other spells, but magic users are just too expensive to train in large enough numbers for your whole army to benefit from such spells. Certainly, PCs should use such spells to keep themselves safe on the battlefield, that much I can agree with.


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Well the point of this discussion was ways that a small group of P.C.'s can take on a army.

Personally I would not even bother fighting the army it seems like wholesale slaughter. Most of those armies are conspires are don't even want to be there. I would scry and die (or sneak in and kill if you prefer) the leaders. Then I would ask for the armies surrender and tell them about the many benefits of joining our kingdom. Might do a bunch of other tricks to beat down there moral as well.

You really have to feel for those common solders.

Shadow Lodge

My party is extremely diplomacy-heavy (much to the chagrin of the Samurai, who would rather just kill everything) - I think the only things in Chapter 1 they didn't at least attempt negotiations with were the Stag Lord and unintelligent/incommunicative monsters and animals like Tuskgutter, a Shambling Mound, and a Will-o-Wisp. (No druid, if they had one I imagine they'd be negotiating with the animals too!)

So yes, I can very much see them sneaking in and knifing the leaders in the dark, upping the ante to scry-and-die when they get high enough level for the Magus and Oracle to pull it off, and welcoming any surviving soldiers into their kingdom with little to no strings on the single requirement that they not make further trouble.

It's mostly the Magus will want to fireball people and the Samurai and Barbarian will want their Conan-style mass battles, which all three will probably be easily satisfied in the early phases where I can throw dumb armies like Hargulka and Mivon at them; hopefully by the time Pitax comes around with their much smarter generals and more loyal forces they'll have learned a bit of stealth and tactics for approaching overwhelming forces.

Thanks for all the suggestions and ideas guys, keep 'em coming, I'm getting tons of useful stuff out of this =D


Yeah, make sure there is a bit for everyone.

Silver Crusade

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Super Simplified Warfare:

While the PCs fight key battles, their armies fight in the background. Have the General roll a d20 + Key Ability + 1/10th of Controlled Hexes.

This is opposed to 10 + Opposing General's Key Ability + 1/10th of Opposed controlled Hexes.

Fail by 5 or More: Your army takes heavy losses as your opponents use a clever tactic or ambush. Take a -2 penalty to next army roll.
Fail by less than 5: Your army loses a key location or resource. -1 penalty on next army roll.
Succeed: Your army wins a key location or defeats an enemy squad. +1 to next roll.
Critical Success: Your army wins a key location AND defeats an enemy squad. +2 to next roll.

Other Modifiers:

Player sacrifices a spell: Bonus equal to spell level sacrificed.
Players win a personal encounter or achieve a successful mission: Bonus equal to 1/2 CR of battle.
Players fighting in kingdom controlled territory: +2
Players set ambush: +2 to +5 on first round.
(In general most clever plans warrant a +2 to +5 on the round they're initiated).

DC Modifiers:

Enemy spell caster sacrifices a spell slot: Increase equal to spell sacrificed.
Players lose a mission or personal encounter (forced to retreat): DC Increase equal to half encounter CR.
Players Fighting on opponent controlled territory: +2 DC
Enemy has ambush or enact other plan: +2 to +5 to DC.

Now here's the kicker:

A battle has a Cumulative DC. So after each battle roll take the total and add it to the total gained so far.

Skirmish: 50 (Battle Check once a round)
Battle: 100 (Battle Check once a minute)
Protracted Battle: 150 (Battle Check once an Hour)
Major Battle: 200 (Battle Check once a day)
War: 300 (Battle Check once a week).

Assume an army moves with the PCs so long as the PCs aren't teleporting.

Missions:

Each battle has missions examples include: Capture a strategic point. Kill an enemy leader. Rescue soldiers. Rescue civilians. Sabotage enemy siege weapons. Destroy a defensive position. Recon. Glorious stand. Hold position. Defend important NPC.

Give players a choice of two or three missions using the building blocks of a goal and troops from the enemy army. Give a rough CR for each mission (or alternatively the Spymaster may need to make a check (key ability + 1/10th kingdom size vs 10 + enemy spymaster key ability + 1/10th enemy hexes). This is where the PCs shine, they know a successful mission provides a bonus to their roll, the more missions complete the better the roll.

This makes mass combats Adventures in and of themselves. The players don't have to fiddle with a whole new system. It's one roll at fixed intervals with the PCs scoring points to win the war faster. These are a little rough but I think they'll capture a good compromise.


Lol, wow, that really makes a few spells far more important than the actual check or the general. A very spell-ist mass combat system.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Possibly, I was writing that off the top of my head.


You could have certain spell strategies get quite the advantage, but not win the battle outright. Enchantment alters who is on what side, conjuration or necromancy tips the numbers, evocation/achemists lower the morale of the other side, divination aids strategy, tansmutation increases the attack power of a side, abjuration makes important figures tougher and less likely to die, illusion if successful ruins the bonus of a general (that is not a hill).

Shadow Lodge

I might try something like that. The main complaint of the more vocal three of the four who are against it (the fourth is just kind of meh on it, and goes along with his wife) is that mass combat takes the focus away from the PCs, who are supposed to be the main characters and the focus of the players' time at the gaming table, and puts it on the armies. Having the players moving throughout the active army forces and taking out key strategical advantages of the enemy, allowing their army to swoop in for the victory after they've tipped the scales some way, does seem a good way to manage that.

The one guy who wants it specifically wants it because he's a massive fan of war games and I really don't think anything short of Warhammer-style combat will give him the degree of tactical control he wants >_>


How big a moral penalty would you give a army that had it's leaders killed off an hour ago? Personally I would always train small powerful armies to fight huge armies. The only reason I can see for huge armies to hold the territory after the battle is done which is not a consideration if you are the one being attacked.


How I would handle it: Have them still manage the army but ignore the mass combat rolls.

Presumably you are still using the kingdom building rules. Have the players buy units per normal, with them being fairly mundane for the most part. This will get you the unit's strength. Players will move the armies arround to bring them into position as normal.

When you meet an enemy army, leaders gravitate towards eachother. Make every mass combat into those leaders fighting. Give bonuses to the side that has the larger army.

For instance:
If the players are significantly more powerful than the enemy, they may get a + to hit and damage, a few extra elite soldier allies, and take on a smaller than normal enemy command unit. (reverse if the enemy is larger)

Make retreating an option for both sides. The scale of victory is dependant on how many commanders survive vs die.

This combines the being the leader/shock troopper with the idea that you still need backup.


If you can you the BP to fund a army to fund the P.C's as a army?

I imagine that a 9th level scroll costs less then running and equipping and paying a army especially equipping them all with magic weapons. So use the BP to get some high level scrolls or other consumable items and give the other side hell.

or if you don't like the president that that sets hire a very small army of people who can use magic devices to buff and heal your P.C.'s. The real cool thing about King Maker is you have support.

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I would immediately make it clear that I do not want that in my game if one of my players suggested that, fictionfan.

The first one would be nixed because they should be withdrawing funds to equip themselves instead of using straight BP, and doing that instead of building armies will have higher unrest than normal. The kingdom shouldn't have such blind faith in their leaders that a policy of magic items over armies is accepted. In fact, such a policy could easily be seen as the PCs grabbing a bunch of wealth and disappearing before the trouble starts, thus leaving the nation to the mercy of their enemies. The River Nations has had a history of that happening, so it wouldn't be wrong to think that is what they are doing.

The second suggestion will just make things harder on me as a GM. If the PCs created an army whose purpose was to follow them around and buff them, I would find it almost too difficult to challenge them unless I killed that little army off first. In fact, that is how I would deal with it, constant attacks on the army. If you can take out an armies support, source of morale, and spellcasting, you have won half the battle. Also, if the PCs marched around with a small army of supporters, like bards for example, it would scare away almost all of their encounters, thus a huge chunk of xp is lost.

Lastly, there is no garuntee that the small army of bards is going to be able to survive against a large army of anything while the PCs take on enemy leadership. They may be too busy supporting themselves while handling a large army to even help the PCs.


I said only consumibles. As least they arn't as careless as a army that somehow manages to break a few hundred magic sword per day.


fictionfan wrote:
How big a moral penalty would you give a army that had it's leaders killed off an hour ago? Personally I would always train small powerful armies to fight huge armies. The only reason I can see for huge armies to hold the territory after the battle is done which is not a consideration if you are the one being attacked.

Problem of being surrounded and overwhelmed though, also defeated tactically because they have the men to do whatever you want, but your elites are tied up killing their commons.

So your elite inf are smacking their inf, then cop a flank charge, then reserves arrive.

Depends on what the system says wins.


One option is to hand-wave it - the armies fight in the background while the PCs do other things (fighting the generals).

Or if the PCs are wanting to be studly, find a way to let them battle the armies The Advanced Bestiary has the Creature Swarm template - I don't have it, but maybe that works? Or represent a group of 12 trolls as a advanced, enlarged troll?


A great hero might tie up or rout so much of the army, that the hero army actually works on the party squad level, i.e. simple spearmen engage high level melee char. They cannot kill, shut down or effectively grapple this whirling storm of death.

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Do they like chess? You could always start the game with a fewer number of pieces on the board to represent any dispatities in power then play it out. Gives the tatical (and they can gang up on you a bit) feel your 1 player wants and maybe (depending on how good at chess you are) engages everyone else. MAybe they can bring in more pawns with summons, remove pieces with blasting spells. Crap I might have to make this a thing...


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The Heros do the fighting the army is there for clean up


Could make it into a running joke, soldiers start to complain at how super the heroes are, always taking the brunt of the fighting, the most glory on the field etc.

Average medium cavalry huff and puff. Their horses neigh.


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Orthos wrote:


So as stated in the prior topic, my players have voted four-to-one to scrap mass combat entirely.

I think this is the only correct decision regarding Kingmaker. Mass combat in this AP happens far past the point where it could conceivably happen in DnDland. At two-digit levels, massed troop formations are irrelevant next to aerial (or possibly teleporting, but while not all parties have Teleport, if you don't have some form of overland flight by 13th level, you really must be nerfing yourself intentionally) commando forces of high-level characters, that can either scatter an army before it assembles, or reduce it to nothing by repeatedly raiding its camps and killing hundreds every night. Battles between massed troop formations in the field happened once per several years in RL medieval warfare, and in high-level DnD environment they would not happen at all outside of scenarios where both sides have some sort of magical troop generators.

And even if the enemy happens to have a wave of low-level mooks to throw at PCs, unless these mooks are zombies or otherwise have unshakeable morale, they will probably scatter after realizing what they are dealing with. Mooks are people too (unless they are not, again, zombies...) and the thought of losing a half of their troop to bury a PC under the corpses won't be appealing to those in the first ranks.


If you use the 3.5 mob system, remember the wonky parts of it, as grapple was THE auto-win strategy. If the party is forewarned, they should all have freedom of movement up. But do you really want units of soldiers to be ordered to sheath their weapons and grapple at the front lines? Once a player gets a look at the stat block of any allied soldiers under his command, that's what they're going to do if the chips are down and the kingdom is on the line.

I just used the mass combat system in my home brew campaign. It was really swingy for the armies, but the conversion of PCs into hero armies worked pretty nicely and was fast to learn and play. The damage system and the low hit points of some armies were the main offender.

Shadow Lodge

Oh I wouldn't be using mobs for the PC's army - they don't want an army at all (well minus the one guy). They want to march out there, just the five of them (and perhaps a small handful of NPCs on par with them - Mikmek, Akiros, and a small few potential others, at the moment), and wipe out an army of enemy mooks semi-singlehandedly themselves.

Scarab Sages

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FatR wrote:
Orthos wrote:


So as stated in the prior topic, my players have voted four-to-one to scrap mass combat entirely.

I think this is the only correct decision regarding Kingmaker. Mass combat in this AP happens far past the point where it could conceivably happen in DnDland. At two-digit levels, massed troop formations are irrelevant next to aerial (or possibly teleporting, but while not all parties have Teleport, if you don't have some form of overland flight by 13th level, you really must be nerfing yourself intentionally) commando forces of high-level characters, that can either scatter an army before it assembles, or reduce it to nothing by repeatedly raiding its camps and killing hundreds every night. Battles between massed troop formations in the field happened once per several years in RL medieval warfare, and in high-level DnD environment they would not happen at all outside of scenarios where both sides have some sort of magical troop generators.

And even if the enemy happens to have a wave of low-level mooks to throw at PCs, unless these mooks are zombies or otherwise have unshakeable morale, they will probably scatter after realizing what they are dealing with. Mooks are people too (unless they are not, again, zombies...) and the thought of losing a half of their troop to bury a PC under the corpses won't be appealing to those in the first ranks.

To a certain degree this is true, however, this really depends on if there is scrying, spies, and enemy NPCs of a level to counter them. And prep time. Counter their favorite tactics, dispel fly, things arent quite so amazing. Or you could do like the classic comic book storylines do.. when the supervillians show up en masse and are laughing as they smack a whole city's police force around.. here come the counter group of superheroes.

But yeah it does break down a bit.. plus there is the difficulty of extrapolating out what magical counter-punches seasoned generals would have against power enemy spellcasters and magical units. Hell, the fact that there are lots of different flying units and teleport spells in a fantasy setting sort of throws a wrench in regular castle defenses.

Shadow Lodge

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As it is, I'm only in Chapter 2, but since I'm using Dudemeister's RRR rewrite there's going to be some mini-Mass Combat scenery occurring. I'll be attempting various little tests along the way until I find something I like, using advice here as well as stuff I've come up with on my own, and I'll report back what seems to work and what doesn't.

And yes, as the story unfolds enemies with the resources to learn the party's usual tactics will start coming up with counters to equip their army with... or simply fielding their own champions, equivalently armed and informed as to the party's usual tricks, to fight them off instead of risking their full forces. But that likely won't come into play until Drelev at the very earliest, Pitax more likely.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Let us know how that goes Orthos, I may end up going in that direction myself. I still will use armies, I will just resolve combat along predictable lines, modified by the actions of the PCs. I already had to do this once with smaller armies fighting over the stag lords fort, simply because the players and I did not know the mass combat rules yet, plus it was a very personal fight, and it seems rather cool and chess-like to roll dice and obliterate armies without some personal combat.

Besides it was fun to describe the PCs and enemy leaders each hacking their way through the opposing grunts to clash together in mid battlefield. :)


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DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:

Super Simplified Warfare:

While the PCs fight key battles, their armies fight in the background. Have the General roll a d20 + Key Ability + 1/10th of Controlled Hexes.

This is opposed to 10 + Opposing General's Key Ability + 1/10th of Opposed controlled Hexes.

Fail by 5 or More: Your army takes heavy losses as your opponents use a clever tactic or ambush. Take a -2 penalty to next army roll.
Fail by less than 5: Your army loses a key location or resource. -1 penalty on next army roll.
Succeed: Your army wins a key location or defeats an enemy squad. +1 to next roll.
Critical Success: Your army wins a key location AND defeats an enemy squad. +2 to next roll.

Other Modifiers:

Player sacrifices a spell: Bonus equal to spell level sacrificed.
Players win a personal encounter or achieve a successful mission: Bonus equal to 1/2 CR of battle.
Players fighting in kingdom controlled territory: +2
Players set ambush: +2 to +5 on first round.
(In general most clever plans warrant a +2 to +5 on the round they're initiated).

DC Modifiers:

Enemy spell caster sacrifices a spell slot: Increase equal to spell sacrificed.
Players lose a mission or personal encounter (forced to retreat): DC Increase equal to half encounter CR.
Players Fighting on opponent controlled territory: +2 DC
Enemy has ambush or enact other plan: +2 to +5 to DC.

Now here's the kicker:

A battle has a Cumulative DC. So after each battle roll take the total and add it to the total gained so far.

Skirmish: 50 (Battle Check once a round)
Battle: 100 (Battle Check once a minute)
Protracted Battle: 150 (Battle Check once an Hour)
Major Battle: 200 (Battle Check once a day)
War: 300 (Battle Check once a week).

Assume an army moves with the PCs so long as the PCs aren't teleporting.

Missions:

Each battle has missions examples include: Capture a strategic point. Kill an enemy leader. Rescue soldiers. Rescue civilians. Sabotage enemy siege weapons. Destroy a defensive position....

Unless my group wants to scrap the default mass combat rules altogether, I'm either going with this or Orthos' idea!


You could have a small army of bards following the P.C's. One of them casts invisibility sphere and the rest cast about every buff in existence on the P.C.'s. It also makes it so that they can later tell the story about how heroic the P.C's were.

Or you could have this small army of bards cast about every buff in existence on the P.C.'s right before they teleport to scry and die the leaders.


Or....
You could tell them this way is lame, and inform them that if that's the way they want to play it, that's the way it's going to be played.

You're not the only one who can scry'n'fry.. And you have a capital all alone in the open, with a family and friends... And you're in the field, ready to go after Semi-Imporant Colonel #3 ;)

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Last night I ran a Mass Combat as a skill challenge.

The bridge to the North of Drelev was controlled by barbarian forces. So I put 12 tokens down to represent the barbarians. I had the players describe the forces they brought with them (one unit per player each unit had a variable number of tokens depending on role (5 for warriors, 4 for specialists and 2 for casters) - they chose Human/Dwarven foot soldiers, Elf Archers, Centaur Archers, Erastil Clerics and Candlemere Wizards)
I had the players make Skill Checks, Attack Rolls and Saves going around the table and asking what their plans were and calling for saves during opponent's attacks. Whenever they succeeded on a check I removed an enemy token, and whenever they failed a check by more than 5 they had to choose a token to remove. If they failed a save vs the enemy attacks I got to choose what was removed).
The fun of this method is it takes up about as much time as a regular combat and I always prompted the players to describe the battle. The players had a blast as our Druid out up a magical dam so the ground troops could cross and the bard used his harp of building to put together a fallback fort that drew the boulders from the giants.


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Love it!!

Could you put it up somewhere? Would love to know more.
I wouldn't mind using the mass combat, but not all the time. I have already done the Tatzlford thing (in stages), which we liked a lot.

Now we're doing barbarians on Fort Drelev (Armag got away with youknowwhat) and I made every character an adversary they had to try and take out. Nobody could die (one on one would not be fair) but if they "won", they got a +2, lost a -2 (and they would be rescued by the forces supporting them = no kill).

Skill challenge would be SWEET.

Even thinking about one way to use the chase rules for one particular battle, just can't put my finger on it just yet :)

Shadow Lodge

So gave my players their first taste of "supermen combat" last night. Went about as expected.

My party is level 9 - Oracle, Barbarian/Cavalier, Magus, Rogue/Psion, and Samurai - and had to defend Tatzylford from a troll attack. There were a total of 9 trolls, 4 scrags, 5 advanced trollhounds (grown to 6 HD and Large), plus one Umber Hulk (3.5 Monster Manual, run straight out of the book with minimal conversion, so approximately CR 6) and Rundtokk, a commanding officer (Troll Fighter 5 [CR 10] off PFSRD, with his ranseur swapped for a greataxe). The players had constant crossbow/shortbow fire from Tatzylford militia as well as three allies - their diplomat Akiniyi (Sorcerer 9) and her daughters Glaicyd (Inquisitor 3) and Nevarrin (Psion 3).

Two trolls and two trollhounds were at a standoff with Akiniyi at the bridge when the party arrived. When they began to press the attack, the scrags pounced out of the water and the trolls retreated into the woods, then returned a few rounds later with the rest of their reinforcements. The scrags were taken out with minimal losses, with only Jaekah the Barbarian getting anywhere near death (thanks to a lucky full attack + rend). Jaekah fell back to get healed, Errol the Magus cast fly and moved ahead, Takeshi the Samurai moved up to hold the bridge as the trolls swarmed in.

Lilith the Rogue then set off one of her Improbability Arrows - arrows with glass arrowheads filled with an elixir that works much like a rod of wonder. In this case, it created a big pit at the far end of the bridge by turning everything nonliving in the area around the struck troll ethereal. This ended four rounds later, trapping four trolls and a trollhound underground, as they kept bombing their climb checks to get out. Meanwhile the fighters are beating down on the last of the scrags, the support casters are picking off wounded scrags so they can't regen back to consciousness, and Lilith and Elegy the Oracle are looking to get into a position where they can shoot across the river as the trolls, stymied by the sudden pit appearing, are forced to double back and move through the forest to the north and south to reach the river.

The Umber Hulk comes out when the last third or so of the trolls remain, stomps its way up to the bridge, and starts beating on Takeshi. Rundtokk starts hucking throwing axes at Errol, who slows both him and the Hulk, then fireballs the big group, barely missing Takeshi and finishing off several stray trolls. Akiniyi hastes everyone except Errol, who's flying out of range. The rest of the party picks off the remaining trolls then finishes off the Hulk. (Not a single failed save versus the confusion gaze all battle. Pity.) Errol flies down to engage Rundtokk in melee, then gets nailed with two greataxe crits in a row and drops deep into negatives. Takeshi throws Elegy at Rundtokk (and crits, dealing a respectable 20 damage) which gets her close enough to use breath of life, but it isn't enough to bring him back.

So final report in an 8-(or 7, since Glaicyd and Nevarrin are so far behind the others they each probably counted for half)-on-20 mini-mass combat is two near-deaths (Jaekah early on to the scrags, Takeshi to the Umber Hulk) and one death (Errol to Rundtokk). The archery cover from the allied militia really did very little, mostly just mitigating some of the trolls' regen. What it did do, however, was convince the party that yes, they are going to need some kind of army. What sort of army it will be, and how it'll be handled in game mechanics, remains to be seen.

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