This entry is part 5 in the series This Means WAR!

This is part five of this six-part series. Parts 1 and 2 discussed the fundamental concepts needed to simulate a unit of 100 soldiers. Parts 3 and 4 described a step-by-step procedure for conducting battles between two armies. But if the PCs are mere bystanders, there is not a lot of point to it all. Which is where Part 5 comes in….

Part 5: Personal Wars: Integrating War and Combat

Armies vs a PC:

The most common situation to arise during War is that a PC is in the middle of an army unit which is attacked by another army unit. If that’s the case, we have to divide the attacking army into two parts – the part that’s in battle with the other enemy unit, and the part that’s in combat with the PC.

If the army unit cannot distinguish the PC as being anything special, simply treat the target unit as having S+1 targets instead of S, where S is the number of survivors. In other words,

  • 1/(S+1) x % attackers surviving = number of attackers in combat with the PC
  • S/(S+1) x Normal damage x % attackers surviving / 100 = damage inflicted on the unit around the PC

But PCs are often easily-distinguished from ordinary soldiers in a unit. They might dress better, have better armour, be of an entirely different race, etc. They can be shouting orders, and casting spells, or have unusual weaponry. In that case, the GM can divert additional attackers to confront the PC – as many as the army unit doing the attacking can provide, if he wishes.

There is an optimum number, however, according to the respective sizes of the combatants, modes of movement, etc, and armament. The GM should decide how many soldiers from the attacking unit will ‘detach’ from it and become individuals in combat with an individual, but some guidelines can be offered.

How many soldiers should be detached?

There’s no way 100 men can attack a single individual all at the same time (with one exception). Instead, as many individuals as can attack the target PC in melee, given their size and armament, should ‘disengage’ from the army unit temporarily and operate as individuals against the target PC. (NB: This reality is politely ignored when an army unit is knocked down to 1% surviving, ie 1 soldier remaining). But how many is that? I can’t give a hard-and-fast answer for all situations, but I can offer SOME hard numbers and some considerations for the circumstances that those don’t cover.

There are nine factors to take into consideration:

  • Number of soldiers alive in the unit
  • Number of enemy soldiers within melee range
  • Size of attacking soldiers vs size of PC
  • Reach of weaponry of the attackers
  • Ranged weapons
  • Standing/Current Orders
  • Recognition of the PC
  • Reputation in battle of the PC
  • Character of the soldiers race and unit

The answer depends on the rules of engagement and the armament of the army unit in question. If melee weapons with a 5′ reach are the sole armament, then the answer is as it would be in any other melee – size, reach, etc will dictate a maximum number of attackers. Note that as soon as an attacker goes down, they will be immediatly replaced with a freshly ‘detached’ soldier, while the dead becomes another 1% to the unit’s casualty total.

Weapons with reach greater than 5′ permit more individuals to attack the PC. 10′ spears enable characters to attack from 10′ away from the character, as well as 5′ away; if the soldier’s physical size is small enough, that permits a second row to attack.

Things get more complicated if the army has ranged weapons, like bows. Given that probability theory states that every possible initiative number will be equally represented, at any given point in a combat round, 5-10 arrows will be in the air heading for the character – that’s not enough that they are likely to hit each other (though that might happen on a ’1′ on the attack rolled by individual soldiers). Again, the answer is to detach the units that would be in melee combat range, but this time the rest of the army unit CAN attack the individual, inflicting their normal damage against the PC. Not many characters can stand up to 1000-points plus of damage! However, this option brings the attendant dangers of firing into melee; a penalty to hit, and any missed shot is then rerolled to see if it hits a friendly target. Standing orders might forbid or restrict this.

The final consideration is whether or not the entire army unit would attack the lone individual. That’s definitly going to be dependant on recognition of the individual by the unit, the PCs reputation, whether or not there’s another army unit out there, and so on.

Those are the factors that the GM should take into consideration when deciding how many members of the attacking unit to detach.

Initiative Of Detached Units

Detached soldiers will always have an initiative number equal to the army’s initiative phase value ON THE ROUND THAT THEY DETACH. This is purely a convenience for playabilty, in actual fact they should be randomly scattered throughout the possible outcomes.

HP of Detached Units

Detached soldiers should roll their hit points as they would for any combat encounter. The result should then be adjusted for the damage that has already been inflicted in battle:

  • Initial HP when detached = Base HP/100 x [(% surviving + 100)/2 + d20 - d20], round down.

This takes into account the damage that has been inflicted on the unit, and assumes that surviving soldiers have received a share of that – but a lesser share than those who have been killed, because the soldiers are still alive. It then applies a random adjustment to the amount of damage inflicted.

EG: 7d10+28 base hit points per soldier. 32% casualties, 68% survive. 6 soldiers detach.

  • Soldier #1: 7d10 gives 39. 1st d20 gives 10, second d20 gives 17. Base HP = 39+28 = 67. Initial HP = 67 / 100 x [{68 + 100)/2 + 10 - 17] = 0.67 x [(168 / 2) - 7] = 0.67 x [84 - 7] = 0.67 x 77 = 51.59, round down to 51 hit points.
  • Soldier #2: 7d10 gives 45. 1st d20 gives 14, second d20 gives 14. Base HP = 45+28 = 73. Initial HP = 73 / 100 x [{68 + 100)/2 + 14 - 14] = 0.73 x [(168 / 2) + 0] = 0.73 x 84 = 61.32, round down to 61 hit points.
  • Soldier #3: 7d10 gives 46. 1st d20 gives 14, second d20 gives 2. Base HP = 46+28 = 74. Initial HP = 74 / 100 x [{68 + 100)/2 + 14 - 2] = 0.74 x [(168 / 2) + 12] = 0.74 x [84 + 12] = 0.74 x 96 = 71.04, round down to 71 hit points.
  • Soldier #4: 7d10 gives 46. 1st d20 gives 18, second d20 gives 17. Base HP = 46+28 = 74. Initial HP = 74 / 100 x [{68 + 100)/2 + 18 - 17] = 0.74 x [(168 / 2) + 1] = 0.74 x [84 + 1] = 0.74 x 85 = 62.9, round down to 62 hit points.
  • Soldier #5: 7d10 gives 30. 1st d20 gives 8, second d20 gives 12. Base HP = 30+28 = 58. Initial HP = 58 / 100 x [{68 + 100)/2 + 8 - 12] = 0.58 x [(168 / 2) - 4] = 0.58 x [84 - 4] = 0.58 x 80 = 46.4, round down to 46 hit points.
  • Soldier #6: 7d10 gives 53. 1st d20 gives 8, second d20 gives 2. Base HP = 53+28 = 81. Initial HP = 81 / 100 x [{68 + 100)/2 + 8 - 2] = 0.81 x [(168 / 2) + 6] = 0.81 x [84+ 6] = 0.81 x 90 = 72.9, round down to 72 hit points.

The DM can and should alter not only the die rolls but the calculation itself to reflect the situation. An army unit that has been subjected to a wave of fireballs, or had boiling lead catapulted onto them, or just red-hot sand, will have sustained far more uniform casualties. In this case, I would change the “+100″ to a “+0″, indicating that the proportion of the unit that has been damaged is disproportionate to the number of troops surviving. I might also eliminate the first d20 roll from the calculation.

EG: If the changes suggested above were made to the calculation (and ignoring the first d20 result for each soldier so that the results are comparable), the detached soldiers would look like this: 7d10+28 base hit points per soldier. 32% casualties, 68% survive. 6 soldiers detach.

  • Soldier #1: 7d10 gives 39. d20 gives 17. Base HP = 39+28 = 67. Initial HP = 67 / 100 x [{68 + 0)/2 - 17] = 0.67 x [(68 / 2) - 17] = 0.67 x [34 - 17] = 0.67 x 17 = 11.39, round down to 11 hit points.
  • Soldier #2: 7d10 gives 45. d20 gives 14. Base HP = 45+28 = 73. Initial HP = 73 / 100 x [{68 + 0)/2 - 14] = 0.73 x [(68 / 2) - 14] = 0.73 x [34 - 14] = 0.73 x 20 = 14.6, round down to 14 hit points.
  • Soldier #3: 7d10 gives 46. d20 gives 2. Base HP = 46+28 = 74. Initial HP = 74 / 100 x [{68 + 01)/2 - 2] = 0.74 x [(68 / 2) - 2] = 0.74 x [34 - 2] = 0.74 x 32 = 23.68, round down to 23 hit points.
  • Soldier #4: 7d10 gives 46. d20 gives 17. Base HP = 46+28 = 74. Initial HP = 74 / 100 x [{68 + 0)/2 - 17] = 0.74 x [(68 / 2) - 17] = 0.74 x [34 - 17] = 0.74 x 17 = 12.58, round down to 12 hit points.
  • Soldier #5: 7d10 gives 30. d20 gives 12. Base HP = 30+28 = 58. Initial HP = 58 / 100 x [{68 + 0)/2 - 12] = 0.58 x [(68 / 2) - 12] = 0.58 x [34 - 12] = 0.58 x 22 = 12.76, round down to 12 hit points.
  • Soldier #6: 7d10 gives 53. d20 gives 2. Base HP = 53+28 = 81. Initial HP = 81 / 100 x [{68 + 0)/2 - 2] = 0.81 x [(68 / 2) - 2] = 0.81 x [34 - 2] = 0.81 x 32 = 25.92, round down to 25 hit points.

If an army unit included as part of its standard equipment a healing potion, I would add an extra d8 hit points back onto the top (or whatever).

The whole objective of these calculations is to apply the events experienced by the army unit generically to the surviving members individually.

Use Of Miniatures

PCs tend to have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves, like area-effect spells, or Greater Cleave feats, that would enable them to harm soldiers not presently detached from their unit. For that reason, it’s worth putting the whole unit (or as many as you can) on the battlemap and shuffling the non-detached around at random. To distinguish them from the soldiers actually attacking the PC, I would use different figures from the usual, or even something generic, like M&Ms. (Don’t eat the soldiers until they’re killed!)

A PC vs an Army:

Which leads us nicely into the next topic – a PC attacking an army unit. This is much simpler – the PC is simply treated as ‘just another army unit’, for the most part. They act on their initiative number, and make their attack rolls as they would as individuals. They get attacks of opportunity the same as they would if they were fighting a number of individuals, and so on. Any damage that they inflict is either calculated according to the number of soldiers affected (in the case of something like a fireball), using the general principles and foundation concepts already described to handle saving throws, or simply added to the damage done to the army and the appropriate number of casualties calculated. Anything that doesn’t immediatly translate to army-unit scale, such as relevant combat feats like Cleave, is simply treated as a miscellenious “tactical advantage”. This sacrifices some of the flexibility and uniqueness of a PCs capabilities for playability, a greater virtue when dealing with armies.

This concludes part five of this six-part article. The final part will look at unusual abilities, both offensive and defensive, and how to handle units of exotic troopers. It’s already possible to referee a 10,000 man conflict – now we expand the system to enable GMs to add dragons and frost giants and walking trees and all the variety of creatures that D&D has to offer to the Battle.
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