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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    HalflingRogueGirl

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    Default Aelsif design goal: Mighty military powers

    One thing that frustrates me to no end in most D&D settings is how absolutely worthless militaries are. You could throw an entire legion of soldiers at a high-level party, and the party would win easily despite being outnumbered a thousand to one. One of my design goals in Aelsif was to allow military powers to remain mighty instead of being an absolute joke past level 10.

    1. Higher level NPCs are common.
    The easiest way I had, and the most effective, was just to have the soldiers be higher level. By starting most NPCs at 3rd level and having most soldiers run from 4-6, I believe it will be far harder to one-shot the typical soldier and make it far easier for them to gang up on and overpower high-level players. Further, much higher level NPCs that use PC class levels are not uncommon in militaries and most of the major nations of the world have a good number of high-level champions who could go toe to toe with a similarly sized, similar level player party.

    2. Wealth by status, not level.
    Soldiers ignore WBL entirely when it comes to their equipment. They seldom carry any magic items, but they are armed with high quality weapons and armour and have potions. This further narrows the difference between soldiers and PCs.

    3. Profession: Soldier
    The profession skills are being overhauled as we speak to provide small bonuses and to pay much better than they used to. As of the moment, the only assigned bonus is from Profession: Soldier, which provides a bonus to saves against fear for every member of the user's party up to the rank of the skill. So if you have Profession: Soldier 6, you have +1 against fear for every member of your party up to 6. All soldiers have max ranks in Profession: Soldier.

    4. Firearms.
    Aelsif's tech level is much like that of the 19th century, and as such it has a lot of muzzle-loading firearms, and firearms are useful for NPCs combating higher-level opponents because they deal fairly high damage at low levels and the muzzle-loading variety do a great deal of damage in a single shot. Sure, they take a bit to reload, but they give NPCs who might not live long enough to do much more than that a good opening move.

    5. Heavy weapons.
    For a more extreme version of the above, Aelsif brings in cannons, mortars and gatling guns. Cannons deal absolutely gargantuan amounts of damage per hit, mortars hit an AoE for heavy damage and gatling guns hit a lot in a row, and all of them can outrange PCs.

    6. Naval vessels.
    And taking this to its logical conclusion, warships. Hundreds or thousands of hitpoints, massive damage reduction, dozens of cannons, high movement speeds and large complements of soldiers, the arrival of a single hostile warship is a good signal for even very high-level parties to scram lest they come under fire from that warship's heavy guns or get overrun by a swarm of 5th-level rifle wielders.

    Now, the question is, what else should I be doing to further strengthen military powers in the setting, without nerfing PCs? Are there any of these that wouldn't work to strengthen military powers? If so, any ideas how to make them work?
    Last edited by Avianmosquito; 2017-08-05 at 04:42 AM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Aelsif design goal: Mighty military powers

    The most ready made solution comes from the miniatures handbook- I assume you're already incorporating support figures like Marshals into unit formations? It makes sense to have bards, Marshals, or other buff providing supports around. In general there should be enough buffs to make it so that the rank and file have the appropriate attack bonus to hit the PCs. Perhaps use some source of temporary HP on demand at the small unit level?

    All ammo stores should be specially constructed golems, equipped with spellclocks that cast Magic Weapon on the ammo they carry. If the ammunition store is explosive, such as the powder stores for artillery, the golem should be the correct type of golem to be healed by the explosion.

    Since Forward Recon is critical to a "modern" army, have teams of Rogues and Rangers with Riding Dire Bats, carrying around tiny trained animals with Message cast on them for stealthily issuing orders from the air and packs full of single discharge traps of Blinking Lights that the Ranger can order the animals to trigger. With accurate enough Blinking Lights markers, a party of PCs will find themselves hard pressed to shake the army chasing them, allowing for easy pursuit or making it easier to persecute them with heavy artillery.

    Use oil of silence on Mortars or parachute canisters. In the campaign I ran back in February, the party was doing escort work for a merchant convoy that had ticked off one of the regional bandit lords something fierce. The bandit's plan for the first ambush the convoy ran into had mortar pits hidden by illusions with the mortars coated in oil of silence. For the purposes of keeping it fun, the PCs were away from the blast sites by design, and a veteran convoy member clear of the effect walked out and recited a scroll of windwall then tasked them with finding and attacking the mortar pit before the windwall wore out... but if the party sees this being used as an anti-personnel strategy it may be suitable deterrent. (It is a natural response to having Bards and Marshals on the front line, too.)

    Shapesand Engineers are a classic, I take it a step farther and have landbarges of Shapesand, animated along the surface by a group working to roll the sand underneath for controlled movement. These can be equipped as portable forts, artillery camps, aircraft carriers (replace aircraft with direbats, griffins, giant eagles, etc.) or loaded with troops and used as breachers, even crashed into fortifications and transformed into instant siege towers. As a bonus, they're heavy enough to set off landmines.

    Most of these ideas revolve around the idea of taking something PCs would do and industrializing it as only an army can afford to, and as such probably go a little into the realm of unfairness.

    Out of curiosity, what Firearms rules are you using? For my setting I'm using the ones from Iron Kingdoms and I have mixed feelings about them.
    My Homebrew
    A Return to Exile, a homebrew campaign setting.
    Under Construction: Skills revamp for the Campaign Setting. I need to make a new index thread.



  3. - Top - End - #3
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    HalflingRogueGirl

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    Default Re: Aelsif design goal: Mighty military powers

    Quote Originally Posted by Alent View Post
    The most ready made solution comes from the miniatures handbook- I assume you're already incorporating support figures like Marshals into unit formations? It makes sense to have bards, Marshals, or other buff providing supports around. In general there should be enough buffs to make it so that the rank and file have the appropriate attack bonus to hit the PCs. Perhaps use some source of temporary HP on demand at the small unit level?
    EDIT:
    Boy, I really misread this. Yes, many officers are marshals. Many others are other classes, but marshals are pretty common because of OCS. Regulars mostly use NPC classes, so adepts and experts are most of their support, but every company has some PC class characters, though for regulars it's only the officers.

    Looking at regulars, let's see a typical Holy Empire regular infantry company. The company is 140 men strong, including 120 basic riflemen (warriors with breastplates and muzzle-loading rifles), 12 healers (adepts with clothing and no primary weapon), 4 warrant officers (paladins with breastplates, scimitars and shields), a chaplain (cleric with a breastplate, mace and shield), a scout (ranger with a rifle and a scimitar), a lieutenant (marshal with a breastplate, scimitar and shield) and a captain (see previous). (Every one of those has a pistol and either a dagger or a bayonet that can be detached.) These are split into four platoons with 30 riflemen, 3 healers and a warrant officer, and those into three squads with 10 riflemen (one of which is their sergeant) and 1 healer each.

    I should do a rank breakdown on these sometime. The Holy Empire's rank structure says a lot about them. None of it is flattering. Like how Warrant Officer is a dead-end rank NCOs get promoted to by warrant because only nobility can take OCS.

    The militaries of Aelsif also tend to have their **** together on potion supply, which helps. Even without proper support, on round 1 everybody can buff themselves, and later can heal once or twice. For example, the 140 members of that company. They all are issued a potion of shield of faith +2 and two potions of cure moderate wounds. Granted, that isn't very much buffing or healing for a 4th level warrior, much less a 5th level marshal, but they have other support as well.

    All ammo stores should be specially constructed golems, equipped with spellclocks that cast Magic Weapon on the ammo they carry. If the ammunition store is explosive, such as the powder stores for artillery, the golem should be the correct type of golem to be healed by the explosion.
    I don't think anything is healed by bludgeon or pierce damage, though.

    Since Forward Recon is critical to a "modern" army, have teams of Rogues and Rangers with Riding Dire Bats, carrying around tiny trained animals with Message cast on them for stealthily issuing orders from the air and packs full of single discharge traps of Blinking Lights that the Ranger can order the animals to trigger. With accurate enough Blinking Lights markers, a party of PCs will find themselves hard pressed to shake the army chasing them, allowing for easy pursuit or making it easier to persecute them with heavy artillery.
    Hm. I wonder if the adepts used in regular formations can do, like, ANY of that.

    Use oil of silence on Mortars or parachute canisters. In the campaign I ran back in February, the party was doing escort work for a merchant convoy that had ticked off one of the regional bandit lords something fierce. The bandit's plan for the first ambush the convoy ran into had mortar pits hidden by illusions with the mortars coated in oil of silence. For the purposes of keeping it fun, the PCs were away from the blast sites by design, and a veteran convoy member clear of the effect walked out and recited a scroll of windwall then tasked them with finding and attacking the mortar pit before the windwall wore out... but if the party sees this being used as an anti-personnel strategy it may be suitable deterrent. (It is a natural response to having Bards and Marshals on the front line, too.)
    1. Would windwall even work on a 20-pound shell?
    2. That seems more like a single-use strategy, not a regular part of their repetoire. True seeing and detect magic are super easy to get.

    Shapesand Engineers are a classic, I take it a step farther and have landbarges of Shapesand, animated along the surface by a group working to roll the sand underneath for controlled movement. These can be equipped as portable forts, artillery camps, aircraft carriers (replace aircraft with direbats, griffins, giant eagles, etc.) or loaded with troops and used as breachers, even crashed into fortifications and transformed into instant siege towers. As a bonus, they're heavy enough to set off landmines.
    Sandstorm isn't on the list of accepted sourcebooks. I'll have to read it before I add it.

    Most of these ideas revolve around the idea of taking something PCs would do and industrializing it as only an army can afford to, and as such probably go a little into the realm of unfairness.
    Kinda the point, ain't it?

    Out of curiosity, what Firearms rules are you using? For my setting I'm using the ones from Iron Kingdoms and I have mixed feelings about them.
    I have my own. Would you like me to copy+paste them?
    Last edited by Avianmosquito; 2017-08-06 at 06:15 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Aelsif design goal: Mighty military powers

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    (Force Disposition)
    I missed the misunderstanding, but I didn't actually mean Marshals as officers, in truth, just Buffbots. For example, if your unit has a Color guard, I'd model the one carrying the flag as a Marshal and the drummer beside him as a bard.

    Detail aside, it sounds like you've got enough buffs that with MW support they'd be able to meet the base to hit chance required to reliably hit PC ACs then. From here I think you're good to just adjust the PC classes in the unit up and down in level based on how high ranking the officer leading them is as a way to scale vs players.

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    I don't think anything is healed by bludgeon or pierce damage, though.
    I model regular munitions explosions as half B/P, half as fireball. Large powder stores as a high CL fireball with the dice cap taken off. (Personal preference applies, I guess.) I think Iron Golems heal from fire? probably some other types but I can never keep the bigger picture of golem immunities in memory. I should probably build a cheatsheet someday.

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    Hm. I wonder if the adepts used in regular formations can do, like, ANY of that.
    I'd been thinking actual ranger levels, but anyone with the skill points should be able to pull it off, I'd think. Message is cheap enough to get a magic item for, I'd also just add it to the adept spell list. (I forgot adepts had their own ghetto caster list.) The blinking lights traps would be standard issue mass produced "custom" items that just need to be equipped on the animals, from there all they need is spot, ride, and handle animal ranks.

    The ride ranks look like the most problematic, but depending on what level the adepts are, Expert 1/Adept X is an option and somewhat accurate of Basic + Tech school. (Following the implied modern military training you've got with Officers attending OCS.) Really, you could probably get away with just experts using command word items and your standard army potions.

    Since the Animal Handlers would be working as a team to initially train the animals, they'd be doing aid another rolls as a matter of course, to get the animals familiar with the whole team. In terms of talking with the animals, you're issuing verbal commands and getting trained bark/chirp/mews back in response. I guess if you've got a ranger level or the right race and animal combo you'd get speak with animals to make it more useful?

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    1. Would windwall even work on a 20-pound shell?
    2. That seems more like a single-use strategy, not a regular part of their repertoire. True seeing and detect magic are super easy to get.
    Fair point- I was using lighter 60mm mortars with 3lb ammo emulating CL6 Fireballs because I didn't want to one shot the PCs if they did something silly and got shelled. I figured since those rounds are reasonably light (under 5 lbs) that they'd be deflected as ammo. Obviously, heavier materiel need not be deflected.

    The Illusion part of the plan is the real one trick wonder, but the silence shells in general feel like a staple of war. You'd just have enough silence emanations lying around on the ground that sweeping them away would take too much effort away from the front line and it'd keep enemy healers and adepts from casting reliably, shut down sound reliant effects and generally make it harder to issue orders.

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    Kinda the point, ain't it?
    Aye. Still, I wasn't sure how far down the road of "War is unfair" you'd want to go.

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    I have my own. Would you like me to copy+paste them?
    I found the weapon profiles for them other Aelsif thread, are there any rules for them other than what I'm seeing there?
    My Homebrew
    A Return to Exile, a homebrew campaign setting.
    Under Construction: Skills revamp for the Campaign Setting. I need to make a new index thread.



  5. - Top - End - #5
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    HalflingRogueGirl

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    Default Re: Aelsif design goal: Mighty military powers

    Quote Originally Posted by Alent View Post
    I model regular munitions explosions as half B/P, half as fireball. Large powder stores as a high CL fireball with the dice cap taken off. (Personal preference applies, I guess.) I think Iron Golems heal from fire? probably some other types but I can never keep the bigger picture of golem immunities in memory. I should probably build a cheatsheet someday.
    Except none of the damage dealt by an explosive is actually thermal. The overpressure and the shrapnel are all the damage. Also, it's mostly the shrapnel.

    The ride ranks look like the most problematic, but depending on what level the adepts are, Expert 1/Adept X is an option and somewhat accurate of Basic + Tech school. (Following the implied modern military training you've got with Officers attending OCS.) Really, you could probably get away with just experts using command word items and your standard army potions.

    Since the Animal Handlers would be working as a team to initially train the animals, they'd be doing aid another rolls as a matter of course, to get the animals familiar with the whole team. In terms of talking with the animals, you're issuing verbal commands and getting trained bark/chirp/mews back in response. I guess if you've got a ranger level or the right race and animal combo you'd get speak with animals to make it more useful?
    I interpreted NPC classes as "basic inclination" and PC classes as "informed by circumstance". For example, somebody who joins the military might start off a warrior, but go through OCS and come out a marshal of the same level. They were a warrior by nature, and when that nature was complimented by their officer training they became a martial.

    I'm sure a proper military will have that well and figured out, though it takes a LONG time to convert levels, and can provide actual rangers in some measure, if not as many as people in their natural NPC classes.

    The Illusion part of the plan is the real one trick wonder, but the silence shells in general feel like a staple of war. You'd just have enough silence emanations lying around on the ground that sweeping them away would take too much effort away from the front line and it'd keep enemy healers and adepts from casting reliably, shut down sound reliant effects and generally make it harder to issue orders.
    Wouldn't detect magic make that a LOT easier anyway?

    I found the weapon profiles for them other Aelsif thread, are there any rules for them other than what I'm seeing there?
    Which thread are you looking at? One of them is ages and ages out of date.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Aelsif design goal: Mighty military powers

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    Except none of the damage dealt by an explosive is actually thermal. The overpressure and the shrapnel are all the damage. Also, it's mostly the shrapnel.
    No, don't use physics! Think of the catgirls!

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    I interpreted NPC classes as "basic inclination" and PC classes as "informed by circumstance". For example, somebody who joins the military might start off a warrior, but go through OCS and come out a marshal of the same level. They were a warrior by nature, and when that nature was complimented by their officer training they became a martial.

    I'm sure a proper military will have that well and figured out, though it takes a LONG time to convert levels, and can provide actual rangers in some measure, if not as many as people in their natural NPC classes.
    Interesting. So in your concept, any kind of strategic or tactically important role would exceed the training and thus individual ability of the rank and file? That places considerable burdens on the officer/NCO corps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    Wouldn't detect magic make that a LOT easier anyway?
    In which sense? You still need a move action to pick up a silence oiled piece on the ground with or without detect magic, and you're making yourself a target by doing so. They're pretty easy to deal with by themselves, it's the volume of your saturation fire making the silence fields dense and interlocked.

    Quote Originally Posted by Avianmosquito View Post
    Which thread are you looking at? One of them is ages and ages out of date.
    The one that was on the first page earlier today, in which you got plastered for strange house rules like swapping Wis for FFT Faith. That's the old one I'm guessing?
    My Homebrew
    A Return to Exile, a homebrew campaign setting.
    Under Construction: Skills revamp for the Campaign Setting. I need to make a new index thread.



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    Default Re: Aelsif design goal: Mighty military powers

    Quote Originally Posted by Alent View Post
    Interesting. So in your concept, any kind of strategic or tactically important role would exceed the training and thus individual ability of the rank and file? That places considerable burdens on the officer/NCO corps.
    Only if it would require a PC class to pull off. If an NPC class can do it, that's way easier. Also, this gives me a great campaign idea.

    In which sense? You still need a move action to pick up a silence oiled piece on the ground with or without detect magic, and you're making yourself a target by doing so. They're pretty easy to deal with by themselves, it's the volume of your saturation fire making the silence fields dense and interlocked.
    That's fair enough, but I meant to detect where all of it was so you aren't working blind.

    The one that was on the first page earlier today, in which you got plastered for strange house rules like swapping Wis for FFT Faith. That's the old one I'm guessing?
    No, that's the up to date one. The old one is buried in the archives and only shows to a google search.
    Last edited by Avianmosquito; 2017-08-06 at 07:22 PM.

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