View Full Version : [4e] The 3 tiers

2011-05-02, 05:28 PM
This system is specifically for my starship troopers conversion and I thought I'd share it for comments/critisism. For more information on my starship troopers conversion, please see http://www.enworld.org/forum/4e-fan-creations-house-rules/302644-d-d-4th-edition-fm-8-7-mobile-infantry.html

The 3 tiers of play for Starship Troopers:

Level 1-10 The Tactical Tier
Level 11-20 The Operational Tier
Level 21-30 The Strategic Tier

Example of the 3 tiers
Tactical Tier (Level 1-10)
You roll a character with four other players. These five player characters are the PCs of the game and all of the focus is on them. They are part of a unit, a squad. Ideally, this squad consists of them and 4-5 other NPCís, breaking the squad into two teams. The PCs team is mostly autonomous but can be given specific objectives that they must accomplish for the mission to be successful. How they complete these objectives is left up to them. The actions of the NPC team should never overshadow or slow down the game for the PCs. Actions taken by the other team can be handled off screen but the PCs should be aware of them and what kind of missions they are undertaking.

Leveling up in the Tactical Tier
As you progress in level, the DM should assign promotions to higher rank. Assuming each PC starts at private, they should reach private first class by level 3 and lance corporal by level 6. The levels are simply a guideline and should be given out at an important point such as after a particular act of heroism, etc. PCs do not need to gain rank at the same speed as no rank at this tier grants any kind of real authority over the other players. The rank of corporal can be given too if you want a third promotion for a PC during this tier.

Growing Responsibility
By level 6 or 7, the PCs should have a very clear understanding of not only the kinds of missions they are assigned but also the missions of the other team and, more importantly, how those mission support each other. This will become important as the PCs enter the next tier of play. By the time the PCs reach level 10, they should understand not only the overarching themes and goals of their campaign, but also the multiple layers of missions involved; those they are a part of and those they hear about on the mess deck between sorties.

Entering the Operational Tier (Level 11-20)
The mission that brings your PCs to level 11 should be important, not just for them but for the campaign as a whole. A good example would be to look at the original Star Wars trilogy. At the end of A New Hope, the death star has just been destroyed and the major characters are all given medals in front of a cheering crowd. Itís a good climactic scene, but leaves the future of the rebellion in question still as Darth Vader still lives and the emperor has yet to be dealt with.
At level 11, the PCs are awarded the rank of sergeant and the party is split up, each to a different squad. At this level, the PCs are no longer a group of individuals in a squad; they are the squad leaders of the platoon. This is the point where all of the mid mission role playing really shows its importance. The GM will now act as the platoon leader/platoon sergeant and give much broader and wider reaching missions to the PCs who will then have to break down and assign to their squads. For example, during the tactical tier, the party may be briefed by their squad leader that there is a group of 4 entrenched plasma bugs on the planetís surface and that their team must capsule drop and make their way to that position and route the enemy while Bravo Team scouts the surrounding terrain for possible bug holes. At the operational tier, that mission would be: your platoon must create a forward command post on the planetís surface, followed by a breakdown of available intelligence about weather and enemy activity (including the presence of an arachnid colony with artillery capabilities).

Playing at the Operational Tier
There are a couple of ways to handle this tier from a play perspective and a mix of them will probably suit most groups the best. One method is to have the PCs stick together to form a kind of operational field command element, sending their squads on missions while forming their own squad of squad leaders. This method keeps play very similar to the tactical tier with the added element of controlling the distribution of other units in the area of operations.
Another method is to have each PCís squad deploy and each player command their squad with all squads in play on the same battlefield. A large scale assault or defense fits this type of play.
Either way is perfectly fine and other methods are possible. The important thing is that while the play itself may not change, the scope has. The PCs are responsible for much more than they were at the tactical tier.

Leveling up in the Operational Tier
The PCs wonít be getting much in the way of promotions during this tier; they will instead be responsible for the promotions of their squads. As they progress, the PCs will begin to gain abilities that enhance their squad members and powers usable by their squad members, allowing the PC to customize his squad to fit his role in the campaign.
As with leveling up through the tactical tier, progression through the operation tier should hint at an even larger picture. Use the same techniques as before to show the PCs the results of the campaigns of other platoons or other companies. Have the PCs send their platoon to rescue another unit when their mission goes south. Have the PCs be a part of a large planet wide operation involving multiple assets and battles. This is all in preparation for the next and final tier of play.

Entering the Strategic Tier (Level 21-30)
This tier, things get big. From their roots as mere soldiers, the PCs at this level should be first sergeants or captains. If you as the GM can handle the load, they may even be sergeant majors, majors, lieutenant colonels or full colonels. At this tier, their missions involve multiple assets across multiple worlds. They will still be deploying and fighting, because thatís the way of the mobile infantry, however, their role will be much grander than being a mere rifle on the ground.
As the GM, you must give the PCs objectives spanning an entire solar system and perhaps beyond. While the PCs themselves may be busy with a mission to extract an arachnid queen from deep within a hive world, it is also their responsibility to ensure the protection of the operation from arachnid forces off world, the supply of ammunition and other logistic concerns, and any other foreseeable circumstances as they arrive.

Playing at the Strategic Tier
Play at this level has much more at stake than in previous tiers. Failure at the tactical tier could mean the death of the PCs, failure at the operation tier could destroy a colony or human orbital platform, failure at the strategic tier could damn the entire human race. This scope should always be apparent to the players. At this tier, the PCs should no longer be getting missions or orders from another leader, they should be consulting with the generals and sky marshals and discussing threats and acceptable losses. The GM at this tier must be extremely flexible, he is no longer in control of the campaign directly, he can only guide it. He must have ready planets both known and unknown, alien threats from every direction, colonial uprisings, a myriad challenges to the fate of humanity all there for the PCs to overcome. The PCs at this tier must be able to process this much responsibility as well. No longer can they meet every challenge by dropping in and shooting the bad guys. Now itís a matter of deploying forces to worlds, sending out reconnaissance teams to probe the enemyís empire, and looking to expand the reach of mankind.

The Endgame
By the time the PCs reach level 30, they should be confronting an empire. The final games should result in reaching a conclusion of either humanity or their enemies. This is where worlds collide and man stands tall or is beaten by a better animal. At the end of the campaign, the PCs are looking at becoming generals, sky marshals, or maybe just retiring to enjoy their franchise. They will have earned it.