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Halo299
10-25-2014, 06:48 AM
I have been really looking forward to using the mass battle system, but I have some issues / questions. I have been testing it before i tried to use it in play and here is what i have noticed that troubles me.

The TNs seem very low. The reason I say that, is that if you are dealing with two commanders of average or greater skill, it makes it very unlikely that they will fail even a single check. This problem is made worse as more specialist troops get added or one or both sides takes positive modifiers for something.

Since neither side is really failing then the battle is just determined by luck as in who rolls higher on their dragon die.

Lastly, i have had the situation come up multiple times where both sides pass their success threshold at the same time, meaning we now have a tie and I can't find any rules on what to do in that situation.

Thanks in advance for the help.

Lukahatt
10-25-2014, 07:58 AM
Lastly, i have had the situation come up multiple times where both sides pass their success threshold at the same time, meaning we now have a tie and I can't find any rules on what to do in that situation.

Thanks in advance for the help.

If there's a tie, the winner would be the one with the higher threshold: if your number is 15, the guy that got a 17 total would win against the one with a 16. If it still a tie, the winner would be the one with the higher Ability (Cunning or Communication, depending on the phase). If it's STILL a tie, you can keep rolling (which brings back to the first example: the one that gets the higher Dragon Die wins).

Halo299
10-26-2014, 06:56 AM
Thank you, that literally solved half my problems. For the other half, I came up with this. Since at higher levels failures become rare, I wanted to reduce the feeling of just rolling the dragon dice till someone wins.

So I came up with and wanted to share, battlefield stunts!!!!!!

These work just like any other stunt, save they can be activated via a command check during a mass battle.

(1-3sp) momentum: your forces build up some force that carries over. On the next command check you make during this stage of combat, you get a +1 bonus for each stunt point you spend on this stunt, up to +3.

(1 sp) cover: your forces take a momentary defensive posture. The TN that the enemy force has to beat on the next command check during this stage of combat is increased by +2.

(2 sp) Interrupt. You are able to harass and disable the enemy's specialist units for a time. During the next command check during this stage of combat the enemie does not get a bonus from on of their specialist units. You can use this stunt multiple times to disable multiple units.

(2 sp) brutalize: so brutal is your forces assualt that the enemie suffers 5% more casualties. Keep track of the number of times this stunt is used and apply the total the next time casualties are counted.

(3 sp) stand firm: your forces rally against impossible odds. On the next command check you make during this stage of combat, you suffer no penalty for being out numbered.

(3 sp) combat medics. You field knowledge healers who can get the wounded off the field. You suffer 5% fewer casualties. Keep track of the number of times this stunt is used and apply the total the next time casualties are counted.

(4 sp) demoralize. Brutal and terrifying tactics demoralize the enemy. For the rest of the battle, the quality of the enemy's troops is effectively reduced by 1 grade. The opposing commander can make a Willpower (morale) check TN 11 to rally the troops and restore them to their original quality at the beginning of each turn.

(4 sp) take the high ground. You gain a superior position against the opposing force. Your enemy suffers a -1 penaty to checks made against you. If the enemy uses this stunt after you, they have taken the position from you, causing you to suffer the -1 penaty until you can reclaim the position.

(4 sp) shield wall. Your troops employ a tactic that maximizes their defense. On the next round of this stage of combat you do not make a command check, but the TN that the opposing commander must beat is increased by +4.

(5 sp) decisive blow. You permanitly destroy 1 of the opposing forces specialist units.

(5 sp) demolish. You permanitly reduce the penalty you suffer due to the opposing forces fortifications by 1.

What do you think?

eliastion
10-27-2014, 01:14 PM
This, however, still remains pretty random.
The obvious way to make tests easier to fail would be replacing the +1 specialist troops bonus with +1 to enemy TN. Then big armies with lots of specialist units (but, as it is with big armies, average basic troop type) would make for longer battles and it would be less common for bonuses to get out of hand.

EDIT:
Alternatively, you could set some desirable TN (perhaps even based on commanders' stats to make sure it's neither too high or too low). The basic troop type would then be applied as modifier based on the difference. So if, say, the base TN choosen for battle is 14, one side is made of militia and the other of man-at arms, then the TN of militia army would be 14, but man-at-arms would get 16 (since this kind of troops have TN 2 higher than militia). The idea is to preserve the difference between troops while adjusting the TN's so that said difference (as well as commander's skill) remains important. Then we would never have the problem of non-combatants, outnumbered three times by regular troops that has a good chance of victory not because the commander is better than enemy - but because both happen to have ~+10 in commanding tests...

Halo299
10-27-2014, 09:46 PM
This, however, still remains pretty random.
The obvious way to make tests easier to fail would be replacing the +1 specialist troops bonus with +1 to enemy TN. Then big armies with lots of specialist units (but, as it is with big armies, average basic troop type) would make for longer battles and it would be less common for bonuses to get out of hand.

EDIT:
Alternatively, you could set some desirable TN (perhaps even based on commanders' stats to make sure it's neither too high or too low). The basic troop type would then be applied as modifier based on the difference. So if, say, the base TN choosen for battle is 14, one side is made of militia and the other of man-at arms, then the TN of militia army would be 14, but man-at-arms would get 16 (since this kind of troops have TN 2 higher than militia). The idea is to preserve the difference between troops while adjusting the TN's so that said difference (as well as commander's skill) remains important. Then we would never have the problem of non-combatants, outnumbered three times by regular troops that has a good chance of victory not because the commander is better than enemy - but because both happen to have ~+10 in commanding tests...

I really like both of those ideas. I did some work on the stunts and even came up with stunts that can only be used if you have a particular specialty unit.

I like the stunts idea cause even if it doesn't solve the randomness problem, but it does allow some tactical choices on the part of the comanders.

Halo299
10-27-2014, 10:34 PM
As sort of a side note. I misread the rules the first time dealing with success threashold. I thought that your success threshold was biased on the size of the OTHER army not the total number of combatants.

As in, 250 dudes fighting 1000 dudes needs to get a success threshold of 10, while the 1000 dudes only needs to get a 5. Not sure if it's better or worse, but when I caught my mistake it Sure did change the way I thought of battles.

eliastion
11-01-2014, 06:24 PM
No, the difference of armies' size is covered by the outnumbering modifiers - so the bigger army will have it easier to score points toward threshold. The threshold itself, however, is common and scaled according to battle scale, so that smaller encounters are more luck and Crisis Point dependent.
That kinda makes sense - in a skirmish with, say, 100 combatants on each side it is quite possible that a quick hero-led charge on key position can turn the tide of battle enough to guarantee an instantly won battle phase. When there is no crisis point, a little bit of luck (a single good roll) can also decide things. The same would be highly implausible in a battle of 1000+ men armies - there's only so much difference an elite commando of PC can make and in a big battle the luck tends to even out a bit.
On the other hand, I would probably consider increasing thresholds beyond guidelines in case of highly skilled commanders (that are unlikely to leave much to luck and/or leave exploitable holes in their plans). Also, even if the commanders are not that experienced, it would be a good practice to roll through a couple mock battles before bringing a real one to the table - this way, if you feel that the battles come off too random for your tastes, you can decide to increase thresholds - that should take care of that. Of course, the opposite is just as true: if you want uneven battle to be a bit less decided before it starts, or just a bit more champion-dependant - reduce thresholds. Randomness as well as heroic exploits of your players' characters during Crisis Points will magically become much bigger factors.

Lukahatt
11-01-2014, 07:30 PM
No, the difference of armies' size is covered by the outnumbering modifiers - so the bigger army will have it easier to score points toward threshold. The threshold itself, however, is common and scaled according to battle scale, so that smaller encounters are more luck and Crisis Point dependent.

I think you misunderstood him. Mass Battles are, in a way, simply story-driven advanced tests. Every advanced tests has two important numbers, TN and Threshold - TN being the dificulty of the roll, Threshold how much sucess you need to acumulate.

In Mass Battles, TN is defined by the enemy's army units + modifiers (like being outnumbered like you said). But the threshold, basically how much the battle will last, is dependent on the number of combatants in the field. So if my army has 500 soldiers, the enemy's has 2000, there are 2500 soldiers on the battle, so the Threshold will be for 2500 (following the table that I dont remember of the top of my head now).

eliastion
11-02-2014, 07:07 AM
I understood him perfectly. Also, I'm well aware of advanced test mechanics - that's precisely why I believed it worthwhile to elaborate a bit on where the difference in army size is handled (since not in threshold), what's the logic behind threshold being battle scale based and why would it be prudent to run a couple tests rather than take the numbers as they are - since increasing or decreasing the threshold a bit compared to the guidelines can mess a bit with randomness and heroicness of a battle to better suit the needs of the story (and GM, and players).

Lukahatt
11-04-2014, 06:57 AM
I understood him perfectly. Also, I'm well aware of advanced test mechanics - that's precisely why I believed it worthwhile to elaborate a bit on where the difference in army size is handled (since not in threshold), what's the logic behind threshold being battle scale based and why would it be prudent to run a couple tests rather than take the numbers as they are - since increasing or decreasing the threshold a bit compared to the guidelines can mess a bit with randomness and heroicness of a battle to better suit the needs of the story (and GM, and players).

Then I guess I misunderstood your misunderstanding. It happens.

I will agree that changing the mechanics or numbers is a very risky maneuver - you can easily break balance and the system. About your stunts, Halo, I'm not very in favor of adding them for those reasons, not to mention slowing down and complicating an otherwise simple thing. But depending on the battle in question, you could, if you want some variety or your own "personal touch", allow one or two of them. Much like some battles have specific stunts (First Blood, or hitting an incorporeal enemy), your Mass Battle can have access to one or two of those of your stunts - I would just advise not to use all of them, and not all the time. After all, not every engagement you'll have Cover or Siege weapons to damage fortifications.