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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default PF mass combat rules?

    Hi there. I've recently started the Wrath of the righteous campaign, and reading the second module, a lot of it deals with Mass Combat rules. I've started reading the rules on the OGC, but... they seem quite lackluster: Each unit is like a character, it's commander can put "strategy/ tactics" pon it which mostly adds to different modifiers, and... that's it.

    It feels quite unsatisfying in first glance. Where is using terrain to your advantage? Maneuvering? Diversion? Deception? And so on?

    I was wondering if anyone had any gaming experience with the rules, or any alternate rules?

    I was also wondering of whether anyone used maps for this, for actual maneuvering in combat (As I'm thinking of doing) and how did it went?

    And how do you calculate the effect of high power PCs in the battle? For example a 7the level wizard can throw quite a few fireball, a cleric can seriously buff enemies, a rogue might go and assassinate key figures and more...

    Thanks in advance,
    Kol.

    1. Special projects:
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    Thanks for reading!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    Terrain and such are abstracted to bonuses to attack or defence. Same with PC actions. Its left to the DM to adjudicate.

    Its certainly not a full-fledged wargame, but it works well enough to get by and get the action back to the pc's. If you try to break it though, I doubt it would be hard.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    It is lack luster and a small pain to deal with but it pushes the story of WotR so sometimes players have to suck it up and move on...but there are problems the army cant solve and that is when the PC get there chance to shine.

    Yeah boring and repetitive but it isn't a major factor in the ENTIRE campaign just this Grind fest part that adds something other then killing small trivial encounters not to mention the good attained from defeating armies will help them rebuild Dresden after they reclaim it.

    They will have thier fun once they reach the huge dungeon coming with 2 tough mythic fights and Vhayne who I thought was a puss bag being killed before he could even act.

    You could just also award them the EXP for the army fights and push them to the story parts they would normally be doing....or you could just throw bunchs of regular grind encounters at them instead. But either way they have to get the EXP somewhere. Not to mention the NPC developments and chances at redeeming people.
    Last edited by Bigbeefie; 2013-12-30 at 05:13 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Spamalot in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    Are the WotR mass combat rules different from the ones in Ultimate Campaign?
    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Plague Doctor by Crimmy
    Ext. Sig (Handbooks/Creations)

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Are the WotR mass combat rules different from the ones in Ultimate Campaign?
    Nope uses the same rules

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    When I've run big battles in campaigns, I've simplified it by a lot. Each side takes dX casualties each round (the size of the dice is determined by the size of the opposing faction), and player actions can add modifiers or kill entire enemy mobs depending on what they do. Dealing X damage would eliminate an enemy trooper, and CC and similar abilities gives your side bonuses to your casualty effect rolls (bigger dice, flat +Y bonuses, etc)

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    Hmmmm.. I don't want the party to have to "Suck through it" or "bear it". If there is going to be a part of the game, then it needs to be a fun part. Even if it's but a small "mini game", There need to be a way to make it interesting, or otherwise have it at the background.

    I don't intend to just spend time with two sets of figures rolling dice and going "I hit it again". There needs to be something more then that...

    I was hoping someone had something ready for that purpose, but it seems liek there isn't. Crap. I may need to come up with something simplistic for this (Since the armies ARE basically just characters), but it feel like an undertaking I just don't have the time for.

    Anyone else has any advice at making mass combat in PF... anywhere near exciting and fun?

    1. Special projects:
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    Thanks for reading!

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Melrak's Avatar

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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    I suggest using something like This

    E.G. turn mass combat into quasi-performance combat; the player characters can do stuff to swing the tide.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    The mass combat rules work well in a game like Kingmaker (that they were originally designed for) where the players build the armies themselves, position the armies themselves, decide the objectives of the military campaign themselves, run reconnaissance on the enemy to try to gain an advantage themselves, and supply the armies themselves. It's supposed to work like a game of Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, or Starcraft, where the complexity and interestingness comes from all the trade-offs in how you compose and distribute your army (and how you deal with limited information), and the parts where the armies actually try to kill each other are very simple and come down mostly to stats and luck. But that's okay, because those parts are the glue that holds this model plane together.

    Sword of Valor is not that kind of game. Queen Galfrey says to the players "Okay, here's your army, here's what you're going to do, here's your supplies, here's the linear path you're going to march the army to reach your target." This is like a game of Starcraft where you have 1 unit (and no ability to create more), the map is a hallway, there's a few much weaker enemies standing between you and the finish line, and the only thing you have to do is walk to the end. It sucks away everything that makes the game interesting and leaves only the most boring parts intact. It takes away all the pretty model plane bits and leaves nothing a sticky mess of glue in its place.

    This is a pretty common theme throughout the AP: They want the players to feel "empowered" and "badass" but are too afraid of allowing players to derail the plot (this gets even worse later) to give them any actual adversity or tough choices to make. (Also, predictably, Paizo does not understand how to make high-level content. They're that DM that loves E6 so much that they can't break out of that mindset even when the players are level 20 demigods.)

    IMO, if you want to fix this problem with Sword of Valor, you have 3 options, none of them particularly good:

    1. Redesign the mass combat rules to make actual battles between two armies interesting and engaging, with something for every player to do. I haven't read any of the suggestions on how to do this other posters have written above, but they might be good places to start.

    2. Rewrite the plot so that the players have the freedom required to make the mass combat rules interesting as-is. The hardest part of this will be making them want to reclaim Drezen without screwing too many other things up, since the players having captured Drezen is required for the plots of later modules to work and Galfrey's excuse of "It'll boost morale!" is extremely weak and flimsy and you can't blame your players for not wanting to go along with it if they have the ability to say no.

    3. Recontextualize the existing plot, moving the army stuff to the background: Rather than putting the PCs in charge of the army, Galfrey automatically puts Irabeth (or an appropriate other NPC if Irabeth is dead) in charge of the army and makes the PCs specialized field agents, moving ahead of the army and doing things like assassinating enemy leaders or performing rescue missions for captured allies. This is probably the best option considering it's eventually what becomes of the PCs once they reach Drezen anyway, since they'll get absolutely creamed if they don't do the side missions first. On the downside, it means the players are no longer directly the conquerers of the city (which your players may or may not care about) and you still have to rewrite a lot of stuff on the journey from Kenabres to Drezen, if not as much as with the second option.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    Quote Originally Posted by Melrak View Post
    I suggest using something like This

    E.G. turn mass combat into quasi-performance combat; the player characters can do stuff to swing the tide.
    Hmmm... this is very similar to the approach that Heroes of Battle takes in 3.5. I may go for it, making the PCs a sort of an elite "trouble solving" unit, but this means changing the battles quite intensively, basically making a small mini adventure for each battle. As there seem to be quite a lot of battles, this is a lot of work.

    I also think the idea is to represent the mass battles as something different, and a sort of a mini-game in the big game, which may require somewhat different skills than the regular adventuring ones. I do intend to allow a lot of place for creativity, we'll see how it goes. Maybe combining the two approaches- mass combat+ Individual PC's time? Dunno...

    Quote Originally Posted by Craft (Cheese) View Post
    ... the complexity and interestingness comes from all the trade-offs in how you compose and distribute your army (and how you deal with limited information), and the parts where the armies actually try to kill each other are very simple and come down mostly to stats and luck. But that's okay, because those parts are the glue that holds this model plane together....

    ...IMO, if you want to fix this problem with Sword of Valor, you have 3 options, none of them particularly good:

    1. Redesign the mass combat rules to make actual battles between two armies interesting and engaging, with something for every player to do...

    2. Rewrite the plot so that the players have the freedom required to make the mass combat rules interesting as-is. The hardest part of this will be making them want to reclaim Drezen without screwing too many other things up..

    3. Recontextualize the existing plot, moving the army stuff to the background: Rather than putting the PCs in charge of the army, Galfrey automatically puts Irabeth (or an appropriate other NPC if Irabeth is dead) in charge of the army and makes the PCs specialized field agents, moving ahead of the army and doing things like assassinating enemy leaders or performing rescue missions for captured allies. ...
    Thanks Craft (Cheese), your input is as valuable as ever. I still need to read the 3rd module to understand the importance of the "kingdom management" rules, but from what you say they look to be pretty important. My players are quite looking forward to the mass battle and handling a fort, so I wish to make it worthwhile.

    I have actually touched on many subjects of improving the second module (Similar to my thread with the first module) though I got little responses for it. It's here if you're interested. I did have an idea, along the liens of your first solution (Redesigning mass combat) on how to make it interesting. I re posted them here for convenience. What do you think?

    Possible solution:
    - First of, flat out multiply the number of forces, perhaps 5 or 10 unites of 100 (or the equivalent). That brings more complexity to the army, and enables different characters to command different units. Change opposing armies likewise, though they can be simpler.
    - For interest, enable the party to choose fro ma selection fo troops to make up their army. The queen will give them X troops out of X+Y number of possibilities. The party might gain extra troops from the previous module or such (Supply train from Horus, maybe Some troops from the mongrelfolk or Eagle watch).
    - Possibly make battlefields, and use the units "map movement" as tactical movement. This can add quite a bit to the game I think. Strategies can then defer a lot to terrain and maneuvering, and not just "add X number to Y stat" kinda stuff. This can be great fun, but it also means reworking a LOT of the mass combat rules, which I'm not eager to.

    1. Special projects:
    Campaign logs archive, Campaign planning log, Tactical mass combat Homebrew, A unique monsters compendium.
    2. My campaign logs:
    Three from a GM's POV, One from a player's POV. Very detailed, including design and GMing discussions.
    3. Various roleplay and real life musings and anecdotes:
    For those interested, from serious to funny!

    Thanks for reading!

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    I think the main solution is to do the Heroes of Battle war as context method. There may be a way to treat say, a 25 kobold unit as a 25'x25' creature that deals xdy+z damage to another 25x25 area and has 25(xdy+z) hitpoints but that sounds like a hassle.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    One issue with PF's Mass Combat rules that may not be immediately apparent is that casters are vastly better than mundanes (to no-ones great surprise.)

    Mainly because the main stat added to the morale of the unit is the commander's Charisma, and the highest level of spell available adds directly to the units offensive modifier.

    So Summoners are the best commanders, basically, followed by the Sorcerer/Oracle and then other CHA-based casters with 9th level spells.

    Oh, and if you stat out the "heroic" units then the Druid and Summoner and such are just better because of having a pet on top of all of the above.

    It kind of bugs me, to be honest. There's so much promise, but then they fail to deliver on that. Heroes of Battle is probably the best alternative directly available, I fear.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: PF mass combat rules?

    As perhaps an additional thought, WotC has a loose system for the mass combat rules for their next edition. They posted an article on it earlier today. I'd link the article, but I'll have to confess to not having thoroughly read the forum rules, and I don't know if that's kosher.

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