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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Duke of URL's Avatar

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    Default Strength In Numbers (3.5, large-scale battles)

    Strength In Numbers

    The more the merrier! Or at least, the more effective. There is strength in numbers, and even a mid-level PC ought to not be able to laugh off an approaching army, even if the soldiers are much lower level. Also, large-scale combats can get tedious if each unit has to roll separately -- allowing these units to work together as a single logical unit makes much more sense.

    Objective

    Create a system to simplify large-scale battles and to make large numbers of low-powered creatures more effective against higher-powered opponents.

    Concept

    Allow individual military units to work together, behaving as a single advanced unit which can degraded as it is damaged, i.e., losing combat effectiveness. This advanced unit is more capable and powerful than any of its individual members. It is therefore more capable (in terms of AB, damage, feats, etc.) than any of its individual members, however, the group only gets the actions of a single creature.

    In essence, it trades actions for capability, as well as simplifies large-scale battles. The resulting group is not as capable as a single opponent of the same level (generally due to equipment differences) but one that can take more punishment (due to having essentially "full" HP).

    Units

    A single unit is the basic building block in this system. Each unit represents a single soldier. Units may be simple members of their respective races, or have one or more NPC or PC class levels in any of the following classes: Commoner, Warrior, Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, Ranger [non-spellcasting variant and with no animal companion], Rogue, Samauri, Scout, or Swashbuckler. [Notes: Variants of these classes that do not have spellcasting/manifesting are acceptable, however, martial adepts are not, given the spell-like nature (yeah, I know they're supposed to be (Ex), but come on...) of their class abilities.]

    Develop a leveling plan for each unit type, that assigns feats, skills, etc., as the unit would individually gain levels. Each leveling plan defines a unit type. Only units of the same type can combine to form advanced units.

    For simplicity, all units of the same type should have identical ability scores and equipment.

    Example: I'm going to go with a low-level, yet trained, human army. I want to have shock troops, archers, pikemen, a shieldwall, skirmishers, infantry, and cavalry. For most of these unit types, the basic unit is a Fighter 1, with feats chosen to specialize their particular role, however, the basic shock troops will be Barbarian 1 and the basic skirmishers will be Scout 1. Each of these types get full advancement plans to further specialize in their respective roles (bow feats for archers, mounted feats for cavalry, etc.)

    Sample Leveling Plan (Cavalry Unit)
    Spoiler
    Show

    CAVALRY UNITS

    Race: Human
    Equipment: Lance, Heavy Warhorse, Military Saddle, Scale Mail (Total equipment Cost: 490 gp/unit)
    Abilities: STR 15, DEX 12, CON 14, INT 13, WIS 10, CHA 8
    AC: 15 (+4 armor +1 DEX), flat-footed 14, touch 11; Armor Check penalty -4 where applicable


    (CR 1) Fighter 1 [Base Unit]
    ----------------------------
    BAB: +1
    Saves: Fort +4, Reflex +1, Will +0
    Attack: Lance +3 (1d8+3, 20/x3)
    Feats: Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +6, Handle Animal +3, Jump +6, Ride +5


    (CR 2) Fighter 2
    ----------------
    BAB: +2
    Saves: Fort +5, Reflex +1, Will +0
    Attack: Lance +4 (1d8+4, 20/x3)
    Feats: Trample, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +7, Handle Animal +4, Jump +7, Ride +6


    (CR 3) Fighter 3
    ----------------
    BAB: +3
    Saves: Fort +5, Reflex +2, Will +1
    Attack: Lance +6 (1d8+5, 20/x3)
    Feats: Weapon Focus: Lance, Trample, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +8, Handle Animal +5, Jump +8, Ride +7


    (CR 4) Fighter 4
    ----------------
    BAB: +4
    Saves: Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +1
    Ability Boost: STR +1 (16)
    Attack: Lance +8 (1d8+9, 20/x3)
    Feats: Weapon Specialization: Lance, Weapon Focus: Lance, Trample, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +10, Handle Animal +6, Jump +10, Ride +8


    (CR 5) Fighter 5
    ----------------
    BAB: +5
    Saves: Fort +6, Reflex +2, Will +1
    Attack: Lance +9 (1d8+10, 20/x3)
    Feats: Weapon Specialization: Lance, Weapon Focus: Lance, Trample, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +11, Handle Animal +7, Jump +11, Ride +9


    (CR 6) Fighter 6
    ----------------
    BAB: +6
    Saves: Fort +7, Reflex +3, Will +2
    Attack: Lance +10/+5 (1d8+11, 20/x3)
    Feats: Powerful Charge, Reckless Charge, Weapon Specialization: Lance, Weapon Focus: Lance, Trample, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +12, Handle Animal +8, Jump +12, Ride +10


    (CR 7) Fighter 7
    ----------------
    BAB: +7
    Saves: Fort +7, Reflex +3, Will +2
    Attack: Lance +11/+6 (1d8+12, 20/x3)
    Feats: Powerful Charge, Reckless Charge, Weapon Specialization: Lance, Weapon Focus: Lance, Trample, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +13, Handle Animal +9, Jump +13, Ride +11


    (CR 8) Fighter 8
    ----------------
    BAB: +8
    Saves: Fort +8, Reflex +3, Will +2
    Ability Boost: STR +1 (17)
    Attack: Lance +12/+7 (1d8+13, 20/x3)
    Feats: Cavalry Charger, Powerful Charge, Reckless Charge, Weapon Specialization: Lance, Weapon Focus: Lance, Trample, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +14, Handle Animal +10, Jump +14, Ride +12


    (CR 9) Fighter 9
    ----------------
    BAB: +9
    Saves: Fort +8, Reflex +4, Will +3
    Attack: Lance +14/+9 (1d8+14, 20/x3)
    Feats: Geater Weapon Focus: Lance, Cavalry Charger, Powerful Charge, Reckless Charge, Weapon Specialization: Lance, Weapon Focus: Lance, Trample, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +15, Handle Animal +11, Jump +15, Ride +13


    (CR 10) Fighter 10
    ------------------
    BAB: +10
    Saves: Fort +9, Reflex +4, Will +3
    Attack: Lance +15/+10 (1d8+15, 19-20/x3)
    Feats: Improved Critical: Lance, Geater Weapon Focus: Lance, Cavalry Charger, Powerful Charge, Reckless Charge, Weapon Specialization: Lance, Weapon Focus: Lance, Trample, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge
    Skills: Climb +16, Handle Animal +12, Jump +16, Ride +14

    Advanced Units

    Units of the same type, when adjacent to each other, can combine to form a single unit. The advanced unit is represented as a single unit with a challenge rating equal to the encounter level of the combined individual units.

    Example: 5 CR 1 units, working together, have an EL of 5, so they would act as a CR 5 unit. However, 10 individual CR 1 units only have an EL of 7, so they would be represented by a single CR 7 unit. If there are not enough adjacent units to create an increase in challenge rating, they may not operate as an advanced unit.

    {table] Advance CR 1 To | Individual CR 1 Units Required
    CR 2 | 2
    CR 3 | 3
    CR 4 | 4
    CR 5 | 5-6
    CR 6 | 7-9
    CR 7 | 10-13
    CR 8 | 14-19
    CR 9 | 20-26
    CR 10 | 27-38[/table]

    This advanced unit is represented using the basic unit's leveling plan to achieve the necessary CR (for "standard" races, this will equal the number of PC class levels; monster races and leveling plans using NPC classes will differ).

    The advanced unit attacks and defends as one. It has a single BAB and set of skills, feats, and class abilities.

    If the advanced unit is no longer in contiguous squares (due to movement or losses), then it no longer gains the benefits of being an advanced unit -- although this may still result in one or more smaller advanced unit(s).

    Advanced Units In Combat

    Attacking

    The advanced unit may attack any target within the reach of any of its individual units. If the advanced unit has multiple attacks, it may divide those attacks against multiple targets, as long as each target is valid. The advanced unit's AB is based on its BAB, ability scores, feats, and other normal modifiers. It does damage based on its equipped weapon(s), plus normal modifiers, plus 1 point of damage for each level of CR higher than the individual unit's CR.

    The positioning of the individual units may allow the advanced unit to flank with itself, gaining all advantages that flanking would normally provide. If the advanced unit completely surrounds its target, it gains an additional +2 on attack rolls.

    Defending

    The advanced unit has the same armor class as its individual members.

    When taking hit point damage, one individual unit of the advanced unit is lost for each multiple of the individual units' normal hit points the advanced unit takes. This is limited to a maximum loss based only on the reach of the attacker, or area of effect of an attack. (That is, only individual units in squares that the attacker can affect are affected, any extra damage is ignored.)

    Example: The cavalry units above have 12 HP each; an attack that causes 37 points of damage to a group of cavalry units would cause up to three individual units to be lost, assuming they are all within reach/range of the attack, with the remaining damage (1 HP) carried over to the next attack, if a fourth unit was within reach/range.

    Area of effect spells and effects do double damage to an advanced unit.

    Losses of individual units may cause the advanced unit to degrade to a less advanced unit and/or split into multiple smaller units if the losses divide the units.
    Last edited by Duke of URL; 2008-11-10 at 09:04 AM.


    My Homebrew
    Gronk by dallas-dakota

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Strength In Numbers (3.5, large-scale battles)

    Simplified HP, added area of effect notes.

    (And seriously, no comments so far? Not even ridicule?)


    My Homebrew
    Gronk by dallas-dakota

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Strength In Numbers (3.5, large-scale battles)

    Looks like a fairly simple way to handle a large scale combat.

    Things I see which could be problematic:

    1. Morale. Morale should play a larger part in larger-scale fights, such that I think it's worth including a mechanic for it. I'm not entirely sure how it would work, but I think it's important.

    2. Spells which specifically affect a number of targets. Say a wizard casts Finger of Death, or Flame Arrow, or something. Why can a spell like this kill multiple people? I'm willing to accept such for melee combats, and even for archery, but it seems odd for spells.

    3. How do spells like Slow or other debuffs affect a group? Personally, I'd try to keep track of the number of people affected, and rule that the group suffers only if, say, half or more are being penalized, but it's something which needs consideration.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Library Lovers Contest Winner
     
    Duke of URL's Avatar

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    Default Re: Strength In Numbers (3.5, large-scale battles)

    1. My first cut on this had a morale component, but it just started to get mechanically complicated, and I want for a more simplified approach.

    2. I was thinking about this myself. Targeted spells, as opposed to area spells, should still affect single targets -- tossing a disintegrate at the squad of archers shouldn't affect the entire group, that'd be overpowering. I should add that verbiage in.

    3. For simplicity, I'd say the advanced unit is affected as a whole by such effects -- they get a better chance to save against the effect, but it's a group all-or-nothing. It would be complicated, though, if the group is then split up and combined with others.

    In short, spellcasters are a problem.

    The original concept was designed specifically for mundane units to fight against each other -- dealing with magic is becoming a bit of a retrofit job...


    My Homebrew
    Gronk by dallas-dakota

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Nov 2008

    Default Re: Strength In Numbers (3.5, large-scale battles)

    I've actually been pondering something similar for my own campaign. My intent is to have several sessions leading up to a large scale battle, the outcome of which is largely dependant on what the PCs accomplished as guerilla fighters beforehand. There are aspects to your system that are admirable, but not entirely suited to my own intents. It seems like your system is better suited to a campaign centered around progressive, leveling forces whereas mine will likely only have one or two large scale battles.

    In any event, my conclusion was that for armies, I could simply have the average unit in that force represent it on the battle. A group of one hundred commoners then gets replaced by a single commoner, and so on. This works well until the armies face powerful, individual monsters or spellcasters.

    I believe the DMG II released rules about turning mobs into a single creature. While I don't have the specifics on hand, what was suggested was that mobs are garguantion creatures with HPs up in the 100s or so. To deal with spell effects, the mob had a damage multiplier for all attacks that hit more than a single target.

    For my own mobs, spells only become an issue if they can affect a worthwhile number of soldiers. A cleric in the stack gives that mob turning ability, and if a spellcaster has access to mass spells, the mob can use that spell on itself. Wizards in the stack might let it use a fireball or fear spell as a free action. Typically, whether or not the spellcaster is dead during random damage is really a non-issue, as spellcasters powerful enough to produce a noteworthy result on the battlefield will typically outlast all of the fodder around them.

    In any event, I'll try to remember to report back once I get the stats for some of my mobs done.

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