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Thread: Military Units

  1. #1
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    I'm on a kick where I'm solving all my problems using the 3e system (the fourier transform of a white noise function, for instance). One of these problems is mass combat.

    My method is simple. Make a unit into a special instance of a character. In this manner, a unit can have classes, prestige classes, and feats. All of these could differentiate and personalize your military more. However, this causes a little more book-keeping. But, who would play Birthright if they truly disliked book-keeping?

    Unit classes would be (essentially) the same as normal 3e classes. Here's a couple of examples:

    Typical Levy
    Human
    Commoner
    Level 1

    Avg attributes (all 9)
    Feats - Martial Weapon Proficiency (Pike), Endurance
    Skills:
    +4 Profession (Farmer), +4 Craft (Carpentry)


    Typical Militia
    Human
    Commoner/Warrior
    Level 1/1

    Avg attributes (all 10)
    Feats - Martial Weapon Proficiency (Pike), Alertness
    Skills:
    +5 Profession (Farmer), +1 Profession (Soldier), +4 Craft (Carpentry)


    Veteran Militia
    Human
    Commoner/Warrior
    Level 1/4

    Attributes (Con 11, the rest 10)
    Feats - Martial Weapon Proficiency (Pike), Alertness, Toughness
    Skills:
    +8 Profession (Farmer), +2 Profession (Soldier), +6 Craft (Carpentry)


    Green Medium Infantry
    Human
    Fighter
    Level 1

    Attributes (Str 13, Con 12, rest 10)
    Feats - Weapon Focus (Short Sword), Iron Will, Toughness
    Skills:
    +4 Profession (Soldier), +2 Craft (Armorer), +2 Craft (Weaponsmith)



    These are just examples. The Iron Guard of Ghoere would have a few levels of fighter and a level or two of Iron Guard of Ghoere prestige class. Feats would work in a similar manner, as well as skills. The stats for the unit are not the exact stats for every character in the unit, but closer to an average. A unit would get a feat every third level, and class abilities, like bonus feats and sneak attack. Most magic using classes are ill-suited to units but not all of them. A unit of paladins healing itself in formation would be an interesting sight. They would have hit dice and saves by class. They would do damage by weapon type (criticals would work differently, though).

    Certain aspects would be different, but a unit can function very similar to a character.

    Hit points would work differently. A point would be a fraction of the units full health. When 10% of the hitpoints were lost, 10% of the unit would be out of commission. When a unit reaches a certain point (say 25, 50, and 75% hp gone) its combat effectiveness would decrease (possibly BAB, damage, AC). Healing would require the expenditure of time and experience points (replace veteran casualties with new recruits and train them).

    Also, the class doesn't always determine the units abilities. A regular archer unit would have different feats and attributes than an equally experienced infantry unit, though they may have the same class. Different races would have their racial features, as well.

    If anyone is interested in hearing more of my ideas on this matter, I'm willing to further share my thoughts. I am currently developing this idea.
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  2. #2
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    Skills would also work a little differently. A unit would use the skills to perform tasks as a unit. For instance, a medic unit could use the heal skill to reduce casualties or a unit would use its weaponsmith and armorer skills to perform routine maintenance of equipment.

    The system also leaves a place for commanders. A commander would be able to partially substitute his mental attributes for his units and direct them in tasks. His own skills would be necessary to control and lead the unit. A commander would be a sort of addition to the unit, maintaining his own abilities, but supplementing the units as well.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Fri, 13 Dec 2002, Arch-Sorcerer Gargamel wrote:

    > (the fourier transform of a white noise function, for instance).

    Music to my ears! ;> But isn`t the power spectrum of white noise just
    sort of a horizontal line?

    > Make a unit into a special instance of a character. In this manner, a
    > unit can have classes, prestige classes, and feats. All of these
    > could differentiate and personalize your military more.

    True, but there is one fundamental problem here: the membership of a
    military unit is constantly in flux. In each battle, some members of the
    unit gain XP, but some of them die and need to be replaced with raw
    recruits. Even those soldiers who manage to last 30 years in the ranks
    and rise to become 10th-level fighters then retire or die of old age and
    are replaced with raw recruits. Training and experience can only bring a
    military unit so far, if it is to be kept at constant size. Elite units
    can be obtained only by collecting all the good people from a bunch of
    mediocre units, or by taking a bunch of pretty good soldiers and training
    them until they drop from exhaustion. Once you have expended the massive
    amount of resources necessary to get them to this point, you become very
    skittish about using them, lest in so doing you lose them. OTOH, if we`re
    talking feudal levies versus the emergence of modern professional armies,
    almost any training at all is going to be helpful.

    > However, this causes a little more book-keeping. But, who would play
    > Birthright if they truly disliked book-keeping?

    I am afraid I must agree. :}

    > Hit points would work differently. A point would be a fraction of the
    > units full health. When 10% of the hitpoints were lost, 10% of the
    > unit would be out of commission. When a unit reaches a certain point
    > (say 25, 50, and 75% hp gone) its combat effectiveness would decrease
    > (possibly BAB, damage, AC).

    There should also be morale effects -- a unit with 50% casualties should
    be thinking hard about why it hasn`t already run away, and one with 75%
    casualties must either be trapped without an escape route (in which case
    it should be trying to surrender, if possible) or composed entirely of
    religious fanatics, berserkers or undead.

    I think all three of your effectiveness decreases are very reasonable.
    I would suggest that damage ought to drop fastest and AC drop slowest.

    > Healing would require the expenditure of time and experience points
    > (replace veteran casualties with new recruits and train them).

    OK, so you have accounted for this. Good. I`d make the XP hit pretty
    big, however.


    Ryan Caveney

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  4. #4
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Arch-Sorcerer Gargamel" <brnetboard@TUARHIEVEL.ORG>
    Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2002 7:32 PM

    > My method is simple. Make a unit into a special instance
    > of a character. In this manner, a unit can have classes, prestige
    > classes, and feats.

    This is a good method, and similar to other d20 skirmish rules, such as in
    AEG`s Mercenaries.

    > Hit points would work differently. A point would be a
    > fraction of the units full health. When 10% of the hitpoints
    > were lost, 10% of the unit would be out of commission.
    > When a unit reaches a certain point (say 25, 50, and 75%
    > hp gone) its combat effectiveness would decrease.

    Typically, units dissolve as fighting forces after losing about a third of
    its members. I regard a hit (and the warcard infantry had three hits) as
    about 10% casualties. Units could be rallied in battle that have taken 3
    hits, but they are typically 0-0 units. Some elite units have higher morale
    and can remain effective (to some degree) down to 40% losses. So, I`d
    recommend 10% hits rather than 25% hits. A unit that took 3 hits, lost its
    effectiveness in the battle of Carmathen, might recover its ability to fight
    the following week (next war move) and return to battle at Diemiolen.
    Further, I`d seriously apply Fear effects. Any unit that fails a morale
    check and is subsequently is shaken for the rest of the battle. While the
    morale check is failed, the unit is panicked. Units that have lost all of
    their available hits (per warcard) are frightened.

    I tend to keep non-elite forces around 1st and 2nd level. The difference
    between levies and infantry is which class is selected (commoner for levy,
    warrior for infantry) and which feats are selected. For instance, Anuirean
    irregulars might have Str 12, Weapon Focus (Spear), Toughness, and wear
    medium armor. Brecht irregulars might have Dex 12, Point Blank Shot, Far
    Shot, and wear light armor.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  5. #5
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    Exactly!

    (The Fourier Transform of White Noise is a horizontal line, thus very easy to solve using the d20 system, now for the wave function of a top quark)

    I skimmed through Mercenaries, but apparently skipped that part (I was upset with some of the prestige classes).

    Why do units dissolve after losing a third of their members? (I'm really interested) Though that may be a realistic sort of solution, I'm partial to a little more fantastic interpretation of the unit.

    The classes of your units could be whatever you want them to be. I guess it would probably be better for most soldiers to be warriors. I mainly made my example to differentiate between a levy (only kept while needed, made up with minimal training), a militia (a part-time but better trained fighting unit), and a typical unit. I guess you could have a militia be like a levy with a few warrior levels.

    Elite units can use normal character classes and only special units would have prestige classes (imperial legions, Iron Guard of Ghoere, Berserkers). The possibilities are endless, and each domain could have a unique military.

    Most non-elite forces probably wouldn't rise much above 2nd level, unless they were in constant, successful combat with a minimal of casualties. You could also have the experience for units decay over time, to account for troop retirements, disease, and service discharge. In any case, the level of a unit should be able to fluctuate upward and downward. You could also alter units using the train unit action. In this way, you can change the feats and classes of a unit, at the cost of Gold, experience, and (possibly) Regency. The possibilities are endless.
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  6. #6
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    It might also be feasible to use training action to improve ability scores.
    Explain how this is a signature, its not my handwriting.

    The hardest part was teaching the bunnies to hug. -Duke Phillips

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Arch-Sorcerer Gargamel" <brnetboard@TUARHIEVEL.ORG>
    Sent: Friday, December 20, 2002 3:46 PM

    > Why do units dissolve after losing a third of their members?

    Because the majority of individuals lose the nerve to fight the way they
    have practiced and start engaging in individual self preservation. The
    warcard`s allowable hits nicely reflects the variation one would expect from
    the three hit (30-33%) limit allowed to standard units.

    As for fantasy explanations, I personally only want to use a fantasy
    explanation where I have a clear fantasy cause.

    Kenneth Gauck
    kgauck@mchsi.com

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  8. #8
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    Hello!

    Arch-Sorcerer Gargamel wrote:

    >This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
    > You can view the entire thread at: http://www.birthright.net/read.php?TID=1151
    >Arch-Sorcerer Gargamel wrote:
    >
    ...

    >The classes of your units could be whatever you want them to be. I guess it would probably be better for most soldiers to be warriors. I mainly made my example to differentiate between a levy (only kept while needed, made up with minimal training), a militia (a part-time but better trained fighting unit), and a typical unit. I guess you could have a militia be like a levy with a few warrior levels.
    >
    According to the DMG (and never change what does not need to be changed)
    the typical conscript is a 1st level commoner (levies?) and the typical
    soldier is a 1st level warrior (infantery, archers?) - only elite units
    like knights or perhaps elite infantery/housecarls are actual members of
    the fighter class.- for simplicity assume that those lucky few that
    survive several battles and raise above 1st level are so few that they
    have no influence on the abilities of the unit due to the large numbers
    of new recruits - isn┤t that more simple?

    And it prevents the world to be flooded by large numbers of leveled
    NPC┤s while most books tell that the number of NPC┤s with a level of
    something are very rare (for example the Players secrets of Talinie: 95%
    of the population live off the land or ply humble trades in the towns =
    commoners or experts. No more than five or six per hundred have a
    character class and level, and only a few per thousand ever become
    adventureres and rise above 3rd level! While that "have no class" is 2E
    it can be translated into commoners in 3E)
    bye
    Michael Romes

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  9. #9
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    On Sat, 21 Dec 2002, Michael Romes wrote:
    > And it prevents the world to be flooded by large numbers of leveled
    > NPC┤s while most books tell that the number of NPC┤s with a level of
    > something are very rare (for example the Players secrets of Talinie: 95%
    > of the population live off the land or ply humble trades in the towns =
    > commoners or experts. No more than five or six per hundred have a
    > character class and level, and only a few per thousand ever become
    > adventureres and rise above 3rd level! While that "have no class" is 2E
    > it can be translated into commoners in 3E)

    0-level NPCs can also be low level warriors (most soldiers in 2e are
    0-level), or experts.
    --
    Communication is possible only between equals.
    Daniel McSorley- mcsorley@cis.ohio-state.edu

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  10. #10
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Fri, 20 Dec 2002, Arch-Sorcerer Gargamel wrote:

    > (The Fourier Transform of White Noise is a horizontal line, thus very
    > easy to solve using the d20 system, now for the wave function of a top
    > quark)

    *grin* Let`s not get too ambitious. Asymptotic freedom helps us a lot
    with things that only exist for yoctoseconds in multi-TeV collisions, but
    QCD remains non-perturbative. I have a few skill ranks in Knowledge
    (Particle Physics), but in quantum field theory, all DCs are very high.

    > Why do units dissolve after losing a third of their members? (I`m
    > really interested) Though that may be a realistic sort of solution,

    Warfare is a complex social phenomenon. People don`t like to die, but
    also don`t like to disappoint their buddies. When enough of their buddies
    get killed standing next to them, disappointment becomes a much less
    urgent fear. Units don`t so much dissolve as cease to be militarily
    effective -- there will be a few deserters, but mostly the unit as a whole
    will no longer care about doing anything other than saving itself. Once
    fighting seems too dangerous, even if they don`t run away they won`t be
    willing to attack, either. The ironic thing is that in classical Greek
    warfare, for example, the vast majority of the deaths occurred while
    running away, because with their weapons, they could only defend
    themselves while packed tightly together...

    Countless books about history and sociology have been written trying to
    explain what goes through people`s minds as they fight, and why they
    choose to act as they do. A book widely considered the modern classic
    account of this issue is John Keegan`s "The Face of Battle".
    For a good look at the fact that casualties in war become much *less*
    frequent as time goes on, I strongly recommend Lawrence Keeley`s "War
    Before Civilization".

    > The classes of your units could be whatever you want them to be. I
    > guess it would probably be better for most soldiers to be warriors.
    > I mainly made my example to differentiate between a levy (only kept
    > while needed, made up with minimal training), a militia (a part-time
    > but better trained fighting unit), and a typical unit. I guess you
    > could have a militia be like a levy with a few warrior levels.

    I think a distinction needs to be drawn between units having levels and
    soldiers having levels. While the soldiers in your "typical unit" may
    indeed have more of their total levels in warrior than those in militia
    units (e.g., the difference between Warrior 3 / Commoner 1 and Warrior 1 /
    Commoner 3), there could and should also be differences due to unit
    cohesion. That is, a bunch of Fighter 5s just thrown together would
    probably do fairly well in a short skirmish, a bunch of Warrior 3s who had
    trained and fought together as a unit for years ought to be able to smash
    the random collection of individuals. Elite units are elite not solely
    because their individual members are supermen, but also because they
    practice cooperation, get preferential treatment from their commanders
    (better food, better equipment, better campsites, fewer latrine-digging
    duties) which along with their continued success in battle greatly
    increases unit morale, and their fame causes enemy units to fear them and
    thus more prone to give them further victories. The 100-man Iron Guard of
    Ghoere might well be able to rout 1000 Irregulars *acting as a unit*, but
    one IG still be beaten easily by ten thugs who jumped him in an alley
    while he was off duty. Elite units are more than the sum of their parts.

    > Most non-elite forces probably wouldn`t rise much above 2nd level,
    > unless they were in constant, successful combat with a minimal of
    > casualties.

    Which tends to make them elite. If you were to compare them to a ragtag
    bunch of squabbling feudal retainers and untrained, unwilling peasant
    levies, in terms of morale, battlefield effectiveness, speed of forced
    marching, entrenching skill, etc., the entire Roman Imperial army of over
    150,000 men would be considered elite. Hence the fetish for continuous,
    exhaustive training in the best modern professional armies. You can take
    the same bunch of individuals and make them wonderful soldiers or terrible
    ones, depending on how much care you take with them. Barbara Tuchman`s
    comment about medieval infantry in "A Distant Mirror" is: "despised as
    ineffective, they were ineffective because they were despised."

    > You could also have the experience for units decay over time, to
    > account for troop retirements, disease, and service discharge.

    One of the other ways that elite units stay elite is that they get the
    pick of the best replacements -- not only the best raw recruits, but also
    experienced soldiers promoted from other units into a more prestigious one.

    > You could also alter units using the train unit action.

    I`m not a fan of this one, largely because it strikes me as sort of
    culturally wrong -- I think 20-20 hindsight about medieval military
    history should not be allowed to give players too great an advantage over
    NPCs, and I also don`t want every realm to suddenly undergo a great
    military revival at once. OTOH, I could claim that it already has
    happened everywhere, in which case I don`t need the action at all, because
    everyone can already buy as many units of "elite infantry" as they want.

    > In this way, you can change the feats and classes of a unit, at the
    > cost of Gold, experience, and (possibly) Regency.

    And time. It should take *vast* amounts of time.


    Ryan Caveney

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