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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    lacco36's Avatar

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    Default To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    Hello, fellow playgrounders!

    I have a very particular itch that I need to scratch and I am out of ideas. I would like to GM/play a game, in which the players run a mercenary company.

    Combat system & battle system are already in place, what I need are either interesting mechanics or ideas how to handle logistics, staff and organization in a manner that is entertaining and interesting.

    While I like managing options and prefer complex, deep systems that have uncertainty baked into them (no solution is 100%), I am not one to micromanage. Spending time counting copper coins paid for matching epaulettes is not what I am looking for - and most of the time I am fine with "wealth as attribute" solutions, if they provide sufficient granularity.

    The ideal would be to have a system with which the GM can make a set of checks for what goes wrong (e.g. there are two quarelling officers) and the players either fix it (direct action - they talk to each other), give orders/make organizational changes to get it fixed (make sure the two are on different schedule) or let the issue escalate (the two have a duel, one of them is wounded, the other is running from law, part of men takes it badly, lose morale).

    I'd also be looking for some way to detail the unit & its staff, the traits, the supplies, just about everything. Especially downtime, but also recruiting, training, equipping...

    What I am asking for is: have you seen some system that handles this well? Have you seen interesting mechanics that I could borrow? Ideas of your own I could use? Or just smart comment that will spark discussion?

    Oh... and preferably not pure d20. Something adaptable. Dice pools work better for me.

    The itch I am talking about is simple: ever since I was a kid I enjoyed creating structures and finding patterns, thinking of efficient ways to do something. I love when preparations bear fruit and I love on-the-spot problem solving. I do not like when there is a total and final solution - I like risk management.

    Thank you in advance
    Last edited by lacco36; 2020-08-20 at 03:06 PM.
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
    Currently recruiting for Brűtāl Racing, postapocalyptic semi-comedic cannonball run across the Europe in worst cars you can imagine. Sign up and get ready to burn.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    You might try 'Blades in the Dark'

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blades_in_the_Dark
    Last edited by comicshorse; 2020-08-20 at 02:45 PM.
    All Comicshorse's posts come with the advisor : This is just my opinion any difficulties arising from implementing my ideas are your own problem

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    lacco36's Avatar

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    Default Re: To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by comicshorse View Post
    You might try 'Blades in the Dark'

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blades_in_the_Dark
    I've had the rules for quite some time, but never took time to read through. It looks fun to play, but I'm still not finding what I wish for.

    Did you have any specific part in mind? Or the ruleset as such?
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
    Currently recruiting for Brűtāl Racing, postapocalyptic semi-comedic cannonball run across the Europe in worst cars you can imagine. Sign up and get ready to burn.
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    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    Band of Blades might be a valid subset of Blades in the Dark. It's a BitD mercenary company scenario, very similar to The Black Company.

    Alternatively, if you can find a copy, The Black Company Campaign Setting, while d20, has a whole subsystem for running a mercenary company.

  5. - Top - End - #5
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    Default Re: To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by thorr-kan View Post
    Band of Blades might be a valid subset of Blades in the Dark. It's a BitD mercenary company scenario, very similar to The Black Company.

    Alternatively, if you can find a copy, The Black Company Campaign Setting, while d20, has a whole subsystem for running a mercenary company.
    I'll check Band of Blades next month, currently it's a bit out of my reach. My budget is limited and I've spent it already this month.

    Unfortunately, if it's not a pdf, it's not possible for me to get - I don't mind d20 if the system can be adjusted & tinkered with, but it has to be a pdf - shipping to my country is a bit pricy.

    Still, thank you.

    Any ideas from those two you would suggest to someone who has not read them?
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
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    Default Re: To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    A heads-up about Band of Blades when you do look into it: it's VERY strongly tied to its Black-Company-esque premise. While, yes, you ARE mercenaries, you also have a White Rose you're protecting and some Ten-Who-Were-Taken chasing you, and they're heavily tied into the game's mechanics, so it's going to take some drastic modifications if you want a less fantastical story and more leeway for the mercs to make their own decisions.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    Green Ronin's Song of Ice and Fire might work (but If I had that itch I'd probably steal from it to add to another system).
    You could run a Mercenary company as a "house" with minimal hacking - no land, no fortifications and you'd need to tweak the investment list. But it's pool based
    Not a great simulation of warfare. By RAW, a good commander can have his cavalry moving at race-winning speeds, while a single good archer can defeat a whole army
    I love playing in a party with a couple of power-gamers, it frees me up to be Elan!


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    Default Re: To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    A heads-up about Band of Blades when you do look into it: it's VERY strongly tied to its Black-Company-esque premise. While, yes, you ARE mercenaries, you also have a White Rose you're protecting and some Ten-Who-Were-Taken chasing you, and they're heavily tied into the game's mechanics, so it's going to take some drastic modifications if you want a less fantastical story and more leeway for the mercs to make their own decisions.
    Well, I'll have a look at it, but I'd definitely prefer something where you build your company from bottom up and decision-making must be a big thing.

    So, we'll see. Putting Band of Blades on backburner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff View Post
    Green Ronin's Song of Ice and Fire might work (but If I had that itch I'd probably steal from it to add to another system).
    You could run a Mercenary company as a "house" with minimal hacking - no land, no fortifications and you'd need to tweak the investment list. But it's pool based
    Not a great simulation of warfare. By RAW, a good commander can have his cavalry moving at race-winning speeds, while a single good archer can defeat a whole army
    For warfare I already have a system from RoS, Flower of Battle. PCs there have significant impact on battle, but can not win a war single-handedly. I mostly need an interesting system for complications, supplies & logistics.

    I have heard good things about house creation from aSoIaF, but nothing about the warfare system. Will have to check it, but most probably will wait for a moment when there is a pdf available for good price.
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
    Currently recruiting for Brűtāl Racing, postapocalyptic semi-comedic cannonball run across the Europe in worst cars you can imagine. Sign up and get ready to burn.
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    Troll in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    I've been playing (though it's now on hiatus) a game where you play a craftsman running a shop in a D&D-esque setting. Rules here. It's not directly applicable, but I've thought of reskinning it to a mercenary company.
    It's a d100 system, with three ranks of success (<50 is failure/poor, 51-100 is success, 100+ is great success).

    If I have time this week, I might some thought into this.
    But I could see something like it's abstracted wealth, with something for doing side jobs the PCs aren't involved with to generate income, something like morale as a major stat, and quick resolution of conflicts (with maybe a monthly roll on a table to see what conflicts, if any, arise).

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    Default Re: To Scratch an Itch: Mercenary Company Rules & Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by JeenLeen View Post
    I've been playing (though it's now on hiatus) a game where you play a craftsman running a shop in a D&D-esque setting. Rules here. It's not directly applicable, but I've thought of reskinning it to a mercenary company.
    It's a d100 system, with three ranks of success (<50 is failure/poor, 51-100 is success, 100+ is great success).

    If I have time this week, I might some thought into this.
    But I could see something like it's abstracted wealth, with something for doing side jobs the PCs aren't involved with to generate income, something like morale as a major stat, and quick resolution of conflicts (with maybe a monthly roll on a table to see what conflicts, if any, arise).
    Hi JeenLeen, I remember the game. You sent me the link before and I followed it for some time.

    I will take a look at the ruleset and pick up whatever suits the game. It seems there are not enough games for my strange tastes, so I'll have to build something.

    Something I have played with in my mind is exactly about morale & fatigue: when travelling to the dungeon, most players do not really care about travel & camping part. Sightseeing is fun, but overland travel - not so much. Especially making sure the characters sleep well, are fed, comfortable - these things can be normally skipped for most players. You would think players lead ascetic lives based on what they inflict on their characters.

    I - on the other hand - like to think about such things. So how to make them important?

    My solution is to base the morale & fatigue based on how your travel goes. So basically: you start well rested & fine at the beginning, but travel grinds you down and you can't just "rest before we get to the dungeon" - you start the adventure with a tired, hungry & most probably even hurt character if you do not take care about their condition.

    But the exact mechanics are still not written down.

    For the conflicts & events: I like giving players chance to solve some out-of-party issues, so there is either the possibility of giving the GM a lot of tools (e.g. character traits for company members - some of them automatically leading to issues, some of them requiring rolls), random tables or some kind of overall mechanic.

    The mechanic I have currently in my mind is this:
    Let's assume there is a status track for Morale, Condition and a secret Loyalty track for each unit in the company.

    Target Number 5 6 7 8 9 10
    Morale Excellent Good Steady Wavering Demoralized Broken
    Condition Perfect Good Normal Winded Tired Exhausted
    Loyalty Family Friends Businesslike Annoyed Angry Hostile

    So, let's assume our fictional company has 2 units:

    Rinaldo's Rangers
    40 men (archers)
    Led by Rinaldo (Nobleman, Leadership TN 7, traits: Hedonistic, Argumentative, ???)
    Combat Strength: 60
    Battle Skill: Experienced (-1)
    TN 5 6 7 8 9 10
    Status C M (L)
    Traits: ranged only (+2 TN if they get to melee; force a morale roll)

    Former militia group, consists mostly of poachers, hunters and hardened woodsmen.
    They have perfect condition (well rested, good provisions, no fatigue to speak of), good morale (they trust their commander, they have been paid well, they are fighting for their homeland and have no outstanding issues), but their secret morale is only businesslike - this is their first time they are actually in the field with the company.

    1st Irivan Irregulars
    60 men (light infantry)
    Led by Arcturias (Militia Sargeant, Leadership TN 8, traits: Hard to Impress, Frugal, ???)
    Combat Strength: 60
    Battle Skill: Trained (+0)
    TN 5 6 7 8 9 10
    Status CM (L)
    Traits: Disorganized (+1 TN to all morale rolls)

    Recruits from Irivan that just went throught basic training. They were dirt cheap, looking for work and kinda desperate.
    Their leader is an old militia sargeant, gruff guy, but fair. Still, they lack experience, lack cohesion and there do not really have good equipment or provisions.

    Let's assume the unit gets a job - protect a small local town from bandit raid.
    Assuming it's a short travel time, we get only a single roll. The GM will roll 4 dice per each unit (color coded for Condition, Morale, Loyalty and Leadership). We need to hit the target number or higher.

    Unit Condition Roll Morale Roll Loyalty Roll Leadership Roll
    Rinaldo's Rangers 8 (pass) 6 (pass) 10 (pass) 9 (pass)
    1st Irivan Irregulars 6 (fail) 8 (pass) 4 (fail) 9 (pass)


    Rinaldo's Rangers work just fine - no problems there.
    1st Irivan Irregulars, however, have failed their Condition and Loyalty rolls.

    In each case, players should be able to do something - but always just one single thing. And remember: loyalty stat is a secret one (but players should get a chance to guess if they passed or failed and to estimate the TN).

    Now failed Condition roll means that something happens that increases fatigue or decreases fighting capabilities of the unit - in our case, some of the food goes spoiled and men are angry about it. Mechanically it means, that if players decide to ignore it or fail to fix it, the condition of the unit deteoriates (yes, setting up a nice downwards spiral).
    Failed Morale roll means a the fighting spirit of the unit is endangered. If only Morale fails, this may mean internal discord - usually somebody speaks up, lets their frustration out and demoralizes the group - if the players do nothing. In our case, the units managed to pass.
    Loyalty failure means desertion or mutiny. Somebody is stirring up trouble - and is aiming at the employer. If only Loyalty fails, it means somebody just doesn't like the leadership. In this case, since the Codition roll failed, it's going to snowball: if they fail to fix the Condition issue, the loyalty may go down too as there may be few irregulars that will raise ruckus because their stash of bacon got ruined.
    Failed leadership roll will mean that one of the leader's traits will act up.

    Now none of these should be immediate - on the contrary, if they manage to promptly solve the issue, a reroll is in order. If it fails, the condition/morale/whatever stays as it is. If it succeeds, the stat may even improve temporarily.

    So, in our case - the commander and his entourage (PCs) hear about the bacon incident as they walk around the camp one evening. Men are lively discussing this, cussing and grumbling. What would you do?
    Call me Laco or Ladislav (if you need to be formal). Avatar comes from the talented linklele.
    Currently recruiting for Brűtāl Racing, postapocalyptic semi-comedic cannonball run across the Europe in worst cars you can imagine. Sign up and get ready to burn.
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