Ironfang Part III "Troops" (Phalanx, Warmaze Disciples, etc)


Ironfang Invasion


Moving onto the next part of the Ironfang Invasion Part III: Assault on Longshadow.

"Troops" My understanding is that these are not individual troops, but a unit of multiple creatures?

I'm using Roll20 and have made a giant token for them. That's as far as I've gotten.

I am guessing that the players will have to grind down the 126 hit points to destroy all of the hobgoblins in this unit. I guess just be free form with what they're seeing; a giant mob of Hobgoblins with shields and spears.

I was thinking of just making the individual creatures in the unit, I'm just copying and pasting tokens. I'm not sure one giant token will get across the progression they've made into this new type of enemy, the enormity of it.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to use them or what they did with these unit types to make things epic?

Thanks
Brienprime


brienprime wrote:

Moving onto the next part of the Ironfang Invasion Part III: Assault on Longshadow.

"Troops" My understanding is that these are not individual troops, but a unit of multiple creatures?

I'm using Roll20 and have made a giant token for them. That's as far as I've gotten.

I am guessing that the players will have to grind down the 126 hit points to destroy all of the hobgoblins in this unit. I guess just be free form with what they're seeing; a giant mob of Hobgoblins with shields and spears.

For Roll20, I took a backgroundless picture of a Hobgoblin Soldier and copied it four times in a single picture for a token for my Hobgoblin Troop, a Large creature that represents four hobgoblin soldiers. I made the combined picture with a free program called the GNU Image Manipulation Program (Gimp), but I already knew how to use Gimp. I invented my own troop unit because I am converting Ironfang Invasion to Pathfinder 2nd Edition, which does not yet have general rules for troops, though PF2 Bestiary 3 contains 7 different troops.

Troops are explained in the 1st module, Trail of the Hunted.

Trail of the Hunted page 76 wrote:

The troop subtype represents an organized group of trained soldiers all acting as a single unit, rather than as individuals. A troop is something of an abstraction since the component creatures within the troop are mostly irrelevant; only the troop as a whole matters for the purposes of combat.

...
A single troop occupies a 20-foot-by-20-foot square, equal in size to a Gargantuan creature, though the actual size category of the troop is the same as that of the component creatures. The area occupied by a troop is completely shapable (as per a similar spell effect), though the troop must remain in contiguous squares to accurately reflect the teamwork of trained military units.

To be totally shapeable in Roll20, the troop would need to consist of 16 Medium tokens even though for game purposes it is one creature. Thus, a common picture and background tint (so that tokens from 2 distinct troops don't get confused) on 16 tokens is enough for a shapeable troop. Designate one token as the one for tracking turn initiative and hit points.

I tried shapeability with the amorphous Trench Mist in section H, Redburrow. Dragging lots of tokens representing one creature was unmanageable in Roll20. I gave up on shapeability and just made my troops a 10-foot-by-10-foot square.

brienprime wrote:

I was thinking of just making the individual creatures in the unit, I'm just copying and pasting tokens. I'm not sure one giant token will get across the progression they've made into this new type of enemy, the enormity of it.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to use them or what they did with these unit types to make things epic?

Thanks
Brienprime

The battle at Ridgeline Camp, pages 16 through 19 of Assault on Longshadow, uses 2 Ironfang Sharpshooters and their owl companions CR 6, Sergeant Dargg and his dire wolf mount Gruzak CR 7, and 1 Hobgoblin Troop CR 6 from page 77 of Trail of the Hunted.

If the CR 6 unit represents 16 soliders, then 8 soldiers would be CR 4, 4 soldiers would be CR 2, 2 soldiers would be CR 1/2, and 1 soldier would be CR 1/4. Those soldiers are even worse than the CR 1/2 Ironfang Recruits that invaded Phaendar.

When I set up the Ridgeline Camp, I used two Hobgoblin Sharpshooters creature 6 (i.e., as powerful as a 6th-level PC), Captain Dargg creature 8, and 15 of my Hobgoblin Troops creature 5. Handling 60 Hobgoblin Soldiers would have been unmanageable. That is a beyond-extreme 240-xp encounter against a 7-member 7th-level party by PF2 Encounter Budget rules, but my players are masters of tactics and love an occasional very tough challenge. They took out some of the Hobgoblin Troops separately, so their main battle was against the sharpshooters, Dargg, and 10 troops--a mere extreme 183-xp encounter. That is the joy of troop units: my players can say that they fought 43 hobgoblins, a wolf, and two owls all at once, six hobgoblins for each party member.

In the module as written, the Hobgoblin Phalanx Troop CR 10 first shows up at section P, Munitions Camp, probably for practice. The place they are needed is for the giant army that assaults Longshadow.

I myself experimented with a prototype Hobgoblin Formation creature 9 troop that represents 16 hobgoblin soldiers at section O, Siege Crossing, and section P, Munitions Camp. I think I have it workable. It was more interesting that the 10th-level party shooting my 5th-level troops like fish in a barrel. I am going to need 25 of them to surround Longshadow at the beginning of the assault on the city. I would hate to use 400 individual tokens instead.


Mathmuse wrote:
brienprime wrote:

Moving onto the next part of the Ironfang Invasion Part III: Assault on Longshadow.

"Troops" My understanding is that these are not individual troops, but a unit of multiple creatures?

I'm using Roll20 and have made a giant token for them. That's as far as I've gotten.

I am guessing that the players will have to grind down the 126 hit points to destroy all of the hobgoblins in this unit. I guess just be free form with what they're seeing; a giant mob of Hobgoblins with shields and spears.

For Roll20, I took a backgroundless picture of a Hobgoblin Soldier and copied it four times in a single picture for a token for my Hobgoblin Troop, a Large creature that represents four hobgoblin soldiers. I made the combined picture with a free program called the GNU Image Manipulation Program (Gimp), but I already knew how to use Gimp. I invented my own troop unit because I am converting Ironfang Invasion to Pathfinder 2nd Edition, which does not yet have general rules for troops, though PF2 Bestiary 3 contains 7 different troops.

Troops are explained in the 1st module, Trail of the Hunted.

Trail of the Hunted page 76 wrote:

The troop subtype represents an organized group of trained soldiers all acting as a single unit, rather than as individuals. A troop is something of an abstraction since the component creatures within the troop are mostly irrelevant; only the troop as a whole matters for the purposes of combat.

...
A single troop occupies a 20-foot-by-20-foot square, equal in size to a Gargantuan creature, though the actual size category of the troop is the same as that of the component creatures. The area occupied by a troop is completely shapable (as per a similar spell effect), though the troop must remain in contiguous squares to accurately reflect the teamwork of trained military units.
To be totally shapeable in...

I tried a shapeable token for trenchmist too and that encounter didn't play well. For the phalanx troops I have also made a small block 16 tokens to represent the unit, I also have the giant single token, and haven't decided which to use yet, I still have about 19 hours before I have to make a decision :)

Thanks for your suggestions and to be honest it never occurred to me to use the CR as a way to arrive at the unit size, thank you. I'll remember that for next time.

Some of these encounters are unique and if we had been playing face to face I wouldn't need quite the detail that the online VTT sometimes requires or at least - I feel - my players should be able to see when using a tool like roll20.

- Brienprime


On Roll20, I just a made a medium sized token for my hobgoblin troops. Gave them initiative and hp, then just copy + paste until I have filled out the space of the troop (for the basic troop, 16 individual tokens arranged in 20x20 space). For the minotaur troop, it was 4 large tokens grouped together.

Here's how it looks on my VTT.

I found that the troops make great additions to battles to raise the stakes and give the party a wall of nameless mooks to tear through. It's a way to streamline the process instead of adding dozens of individual low CR creatures. They also have a fair amount of guaranteed damage since they don't actually make attack rolls, so a decent way to soften up a party, and give your more unique monsters and bosses some room to use their more interesting abilities.

Functionally, they attack like a massive swarm, share a large health pool, but take damage as medium-sized creatures, so not as frustrating to kill as an actual swarm. I described them losing HP as individuals within the troop falling and dying, but more troopers simply step into their place and close ranks. The phalanx troopers in particular were fun to pit against my party with their Close Ranks and Tripping Spears abilities. The morlock swarmer troop has terrifying potential in the Battle of Longshadow. Their Expert Climber and Leap Attack abilities mean the entire troop can run up walls and leap through the air, crashing over your party like a tidal wave, doing automatic troop damage all along the way.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If you want to use multiple tokens to represent a troop, I recommend taking a page from PF2 troops:

https://pf2easy.com/index.php?id=11493&name=Troop_Defenses

TROOP DEFENSES
CREATURE ABILITY
DESCRIBING ATTACKS AGAINST A TROOP

While troops lose four squares at a time to make the encounter easier to run and adjudicate, when they take damage troops are continually losing members, and it helps immerse the players in the fantasy of fighting against a huge troop of foes to describe this as it happens, even if an attack doesn’t cross one of the troop’s Hit Point thresholds. It’s especially important to do so if an attack comes close to crossing a threshold, as you can set up the visual of the troop on a precipice to signpost that a big change is about to happen. That way it’ll fit the narrative better when a tiny crossbow attack or bit of persistent damage just barely pushes the troop over the edge, as the players remain on the edge of their seats waiting for that last hit to happen.

Troops are composed of many individuals, and over the course of enough attacks and downed comrades, troops shrink in size. Most troops start with 16 squares (4 by 4), and their Hit Points have two listed thresholds, typically the first is at 2/3 their maximum Hit Points and the second is at 1/3 their maximum Hit Points. Once the troop drops below the first threshold, it loses 4 squares, leaving 12 squares remaining, and the first threshold becomes the troop’s new maximum Hit Points. Once the troop falls below the second threshold, it loses another 4 squares, leaving 8 squares remaining, and the second threshold becomes the troop’s new maximum Hit Points. In order to restore its size and maximum Hit Points, a troop needs to spend downtime to use long-term treatment on casualties or recruit new members to replace the fallen. At 0 Hit Points, the troop is reduced down to 4 squares, which is too few to sustain the troop, so it disperses entirely, with the few remaining members surrendering, fleeing, or easily dispatched, depending on their nature.

A damaging single-target effect, such as a Strike, can’t force a troop to pass through more than one threshold at once. For instance, if a troop had 60 Hit Points, with thresholds at 40 and 20, a Strike for 50 damage would leave the troop at 21 Hit Points, just above the second threshold. A damaging area effect or multi-target effect can cross multiple thresholds at once and could potentially destroy the entire troop in one shot.

Non-damaging effects with an area or that target all creatures in a certain proximity affect a troop normally if they affect the entire area occupied by the troop. If an effect has a smaller area or numbers of targets, it typically has no effect on the troop. However, if the effect can target at least four creatures or cover at least four squares in the troop, and if it would prevent its targets from acting, cause them to flee, or otherwise make them unable to function as part of the troop for a round or more, the troop loses loses a number of Hit Points equal to the amount required to bring it to the next threshold, removing 4 squares. If an effect would both deal damage and automatically cross a threshold due to incapacitating some of the creatures in the troop, apply the damage first. If the damage wasn’t enough to cross a threshold on its own, then reduce the Hit Points to cross the threshold for the incapacitating effect.
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