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Thread: Hero Units

  1. #1
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    I thought it worthwhile to start a new thread on the topic of Hero Units and their effect on the battlefield. I realize that without settling on a battle system for the BRCS, this will be something of a preliminary discussion subject to change.

    To start with, though, I thought it would be good to at least critique the Hero Unit system in the BRCS as a starting point, and figure out if folks like it the way it is, or does it need adjusting or radical overhaul?

    Here are some key aspects of the exisiting BRCS system:

    - In the BRCS, Hero Units are like templates added on to existing units. They have no unit-scale effects on their own, only the ability to add to the stats of a unit they attach to.

    Should Hero Units have the potential to be like independent units, capable of delivering a full hit of damage to an enemy unit? If so, they would need to be assigned stats for attack, defense, hits, move, and maybe morale. Probably more trouble than its worth, even if its more realistic.

    - Hero Units add to the Morale, Attack, and Defense of a unit (in that order), scaled according to the total EL of the hero unit.

    Is this appropriate, or do the effects need tweaking?

    Here I'll insert my opinion based on playtesting and constructive reflection.

    Heroes adding to a unit's Morale makes logical sense, but when it stacks with the unit commander's Morale bonus from Lead, things get ridiculous. IMO the morale bonus from hero units should be toned down, allowing a commander with the Lead skill to be the single most important bonus to unit morale.

    Heroes adding to attack makes sense, too. However, what is lacking is a representation of the ability of high-level PCs/NPCs to inflict an incredible amount of damage per person. Adding to a unit's attack has no effect on how much damage they inflict, only on its likelihood of scoring a single hit in the appropriate phase. The net result is that (IMO) the destructive power of high-level heroes is under-represented on the battlefield.

    Defense is a minor bonus granted only by high level hero groups: +1 Def for an EL 10 group, +2 for an EL 16 group. I am curious what the rationale for this bonus is, though. Is this simulating the ability of heroes to soak up some of the attacks that would normally target the rest of the unit? That's the only rationale I could come up with. Since it's such a small bonus, it's not a large issue, really.

    The major changes I would propose then, is that the morale bonuses are lessened, and instead heroes could add a damage bonus at higher levels. Either that, or the hero unit gets a seperate attack altogether. The latter, though, leads to treating the hero group like a seperate unit (even if it is more realistic).

    So here is a possible revised spread for the bonuses granted by a hero unit, using the BRCS stat system.

    Hero Group Bonuses
    EL........Attack...Defense...Morale...Damage
    6...........+0..........+0...........+2.........+0
    8...........+2..........+0...........+2.........+0
    10.........+2..........+1...........+2.........+0
    12.........+2..........+1...........+2.........+1 hits
    14.........+4..........+1...........+4.........+1 hits
    16.........+4..........+2...........+4.........+1 hits
    18.........+4..........+2...........+4.........+2 hits
    20.........+6..........+2...........+4.........+2 hits
    22.........+6..........+3...........+6.........+2 hits
    24.........+6..........+3...........+6.........+3 hits
    26.........+8..........+3...........+6.........+3 hits
    28.........+8..........+4...........+6.........+3 hits
    30.........+8..........+4...........+8.........+4 hits


    Note: EL 26 is the non-epic limit for eight 20th level characters. I included listings through EL 30 for the sake of low-epic characters, and to show the logical progression through epic levels. Most BR camapigns won't go there, of course, but a few will.

    Each even level of EL increase thus grants at least one unit bonus, very rarely two seperate bonuses. Most importantly, the +1 hit of damage (definitely the most dramatic bonus) is always a gain by itself (not including EL30, but at epic level it's pretty OK if a unit gets +1 hit and +2 morale).

    What do you think of this, folks?

    Osprey

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    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    A lot of good points and good discussion topic.

    I do however call attention to the fact that adding to damage will essentially have the effect of wiping out entire units. Currently the hits per unit run from 1 to 4 (or so) so adding a single +1 to damage in effect reduces an entire low to mid-level unit to nothing.

    IIRC you had previously pointed out that tying in increased critical ranges meshed better with an increased to hit bonus. I would instead go along that route since if a unit is more likely to hit it is more likely to inflict damage, etc.

    IMO adding a separate hero unit is going to exponentially increase the amount of detail involve, pretty much like you inferred. This would be along the lines of how do you represent the battlefield equivalent of the different classes? Warrior types have more hits, better AC, etc. Spellcasters can generally inflict more damage (especially at higher level) and their tohit bonus would be better due to the way magic strikes (usually not a strike on AC). How would one represent a bard or rogue unit? The details just start to boggle the mind.


    Other than that on first look over it looks promising.
    Duane Eggert

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    Originally posted by "duane"
    I do however call attention to the fact that adding to damage will essentially have the effect of wiping out entire units. Currently the hits per unit run from 1 to 4 (or so) so adding a single +1 to damage in effect reduces an entire low to mid-level unit to nothing.
    I would say that is a good thing. Currently hero's provide much to slight of a benefit on the unit level of combat given how much damage they could be inflicting they were fighting on a normal 3.5 round to round basis. I think this may be part of the reason their is such a big push to create rules for heroes, especially mages, to operate on a round-to-round basis. Using Ospreys table, or some variant of it, would actually allow that 14th level character embedded within a unit to have real impact on the battle. Rather than going out individually, they could embedd withit a unit and then that unit could thrash its way towards the general.
    Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a night. Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.

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    I think the old hero unit was fine as far as I am concerned it is a simple effective and relativly realistic in terms of the game mechanism.

    Ospreys hero bonuses are far too high making a hero unit only matched by a hero unit.

    An individual has much less affect in a mass battle. He often has little space to move can only attack people infront of him cannot move away from the rest of the unit without making himslef vulnerable. The reasons go on and on as to why those bonuses put forward by osprey are very very broken. As irdeggman said what about the different classes. There is far to much wrong with this the hero bonuses worked before they should be left alone.
    MORNINGSTAR

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    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    I do however call attention to the fact that adding to damage will essentially have the effect of wiping out entire units. Currently the hits per unit run from 1 to 4 (or so) so adding a single +1 to damage in effect reduces an entire low to mid-level unit to nothing.
    OK, on the revised table it requires an EL 12 hero group to add +1 damage to a unit. That's one 12th level PC, 2 10th level PCs, 4 8th level PCs, or 8 6th level PCs.

    Let's just say the 'typical' hero group is a party of 4 PCs, so the EL 12 group is 4 at 8th level.

    4 x 8th level PC's...what are they capable of?

    8th level Fighter: likely to hit and kill (or at least disable, as good as a kill in battlefield combat) 2-3 average soldiers per combat round. That's assuming a decent spread of feats, probably including Cleave for that extra (3rd) attack.

    8th level Ranger archer: with Rapid Shot and a Comp. Longbow: he can shoot and usually hit 3 targets per round. Most hits will either disable or kill a 1st level warrior. 2-weapon rangers are equally vicious in melee, what with 4 attacks per round at 8th level, all with a good chance of hitting and dropping a 1st level warrior - he probably ends up something like the fighter, with the possibility of a 4th kill per round, even 5 with Cleave. 2-weapon Fighter PCs are similarly extra-effective against hordes of 1st level warriors.

    8th level Rogue: 2 attacks per round, sneak attack +4d6 when applicable (flanking is likely since he has improved uncanny dodge, probably tumble too)...assume rogues will fight strategically, targeting key officers and elites with their sneak attacks...this makes them as potentially devestating to an enemy unit's morale and cohesiveness as the fighter cleaving through the ranks.

    8th level Cleric: 2 attacks per round, plus divine spellcasting for spells level 0-4; figure if it gets into melee, he'll be enhanced with a few key spells (Divine Favor, maybe Divine Power), pretty much ensuring 2 hits/kills per round. Plus he'll be enhancing his allies with area spells like Bless and Prayer, and/or diminish enemies with Bane. Healing your allies so they fight longer is also quite demoralizing to enemy troops without a healer of their own...

    8th level Wizard/Sorcerer: Only 1 attack per round at +4 BAB, but still...with a crossbow they can probably hit and kill 1 soldier per round (far better than the average soldier can do). Figure some of their spells will be defensive if they're in a fighting unit, but that leaves a nice array of spells from 0-4th level...a key fireball is a hit of damage all by itself, a Fear spell (cone) could cause a large group of enemies to route in terror, Confusion could make a bunch of enemy soldiers start fighting one another or just stare stupidly as they're cut down...even without lots of spells, a few key ones could easily add an extra hit of damage all by themselves, especially when the morale factor is included in a spell's effects.

    8th level Bard: like a rogue or cleric, they can do 2 attacks per round...plus their Inspire Courage (+2) song will drive every nearby ally to greater abilities - tripling the attack bonus of a 1st level warrior, and adding enough damage to make every hit count. That power alone can almost double the strength of a fighting company, especially if the bard's music is loud enough to hear over the din of battle. Throw in a few spells for extra effect, and the bard comes to be valued as a powerful addition to any hero group.


    4 of these guys together...wow. I'd say it should be blatantly apparent why such a group could easily double the damage-dealing abilities of a unit on the battlefield.


    EL 18 adds +2 damage: that's four 14th level PCs. By this time, they'll all likely have magic items boosting their key abilities (even in a low-magic setting), base attacks allow even more attacks per round (high = 3/round, med/low = 2/round), all PCs have more feats (fighters especially), rangers and paladins have a few enhancement spells, spellcasting starts getting truly viscious (14th level clerics/mages have spells through 7th level, metamagic like Widen Spell or Quicken spell can multiply mass-combat damage), rogue skills, sneak attacks, and special abilities make them incredibly deadly vs. NPC elites, bards' inspire courage goes up to +3, inspire greatness can give allied PCs even more potency, and their spells become quite a power in their own right...

    You get the point...there are really sound justifications, IMO, for why higher-level PCs really do multiply the killing power of a unit they're leading.

    Plus, never underestimate the power of morale on the mass-combat battlefield. Much like the fireball killing 20 men at once, the fear inspired by a 14th level fighter tearing through your ranks like your armor is made of tinfoil, well...for every man he kills, I bet another 2 or 3 are going to cower or bolt, or at least get the hell out of his way, which will break their formation and probably turn the killing into a route in a matter of minutes...

    So yeah, I think it's perfectly justifiable that an EL 12 hero group could add one hit of damage to the unit they're attached to - they can kill a regular unit in one battle turn.

    An EL 18 hero group attached to a unit could break a unit of veterans or tough regulars in one battle turn...still perfectly reasonable, IMO, given their incredible powers.

    I really don't think these advantages are any more broken than the power gap between low and high level characters in D&D. And if you have an issue with that, well then no offense, but you probably shouldn't be too involved in a 3.5 conversion project in the first place.

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    What about making a template depending on hero type & level?


    ex:

    Fighter 8th +1Attack
    Cleric 8th +1Defense
    Bard 8th +1Morale
    Wizard 8th +1Damage


    etc etc....

    Something so it would be easier to adjust the benefits a hero unit grant depending on the group of Hero's & level. But maybe having a cap to keep it from being unbalanced so no one stacks like 3 fighters & 3 Clerics etc
    0=[=====>
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    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    What about making a template depending on hero type & level?
    That certainly creates a whole new realm of detail...which given the great variety of classes and prestige classes, each then staged by level, might be a can of worms best not opened...

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    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    I have been seriously tossing and turning the whole hero unit revision I proposed earlier. I've come to recognize that multiplying a unit's damage-dealing capacity plus adding to its attack value stacks up to be incredibly devestating compared to non-hero led units. In other words it lacks balance, in much the same way a PC with a wand of fireballs can completely unbalance the battlefield in a single battle turn of 5-10 minutes.

    In other words, this is a recurring problem. I think in part this problem stems from the system itself: high-level characters are exponentially more powerful than low-level ones, and this is especially apparent when comparing high-level PC's to 1st level Warrior soldiers. In a more realistic game system, every soldier would be much more dangerous, and a heroic fighter would be more like a very experienced and deadly version of a soldier. In the D&D system, a high-level PC is more like a demigod in comparison to soldiers, so that when you start adding up the numbers, then multiplying by the significant length of a battle turn, there is a ridiculous gap between virtually-invulnerable war machine PC's and lowly NPC fodder (soldiers). Poor sots.

    This is one of the reasons I am a proponent of giving professional soldiers easier access to PC classes and levels, particularly well-trained and/or veteran ones. I would prefer that the typical veteran soldier be a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th level Fighter - someone who better represents a career soldier who spends most of his working time training for war, and has real combat experience to boot. Units comprised of troops like this would certainly represent a far more serious threat to PCs on the battlefield, and would justify toning down hero unit bonuses somewhat, as they couldn't be mowed down quite so easily and might manage to hit a PC more often than once every 20 attacks.


    One way I've thought of revising the Hero Unit bonuses I proposed earlier is to change the extra hits of damage into extra attacks. This would force more dice rolling whenever hero units engage, but it would also allow high-defense enemy units a chance to resist being obliterated by one lucky attack.

    I would also be okay with lowering some of the bonuses I proposed earlier, mainly for the sake of preserving some semblance of balance.

    Here's a scaled-down version of the 1st proposal:

    Hero Group Unit Bonuses v2
    EL........Attack...Defense...Morale....Extra Attacks
    6...........+0..........+0...........+2..........+ 0
    8...........+2..........+0...........+2..........+ 0
    10.........+2..........+1...........+2..........+0
    12.........+2..........+1...........+2..........+1
    14.........+2..........+2...........+4..........+1
    16.........+4..........+2...........+4..........+1
    18.........+4..........+3...........+4..........+1
    20.........+4..........+3...........+4..........+2
    22.........+4..........+4...........+6..........+2
    24.........+6..........+4...........+6..........+2
    26.........+6..........+5...........+6..........+2
    28.........+6..........+5...........+6..........+3
    30.........+6..........+6...........+8..........+3

    Extra Attacks: The impressive might of high-level heroes may enable a unit to make more than one attack per battle turn. These extra attacks must all be resolved at the same time - in whichever phase the unit would normally make its standard melee or missile attack.


    These figures seem to me to better preserve some balance of play, while still showcasing higer-level heroes as tide-turning factors on the battlefield.

    What do think, folks?

    Osprey

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    Senior Member RaspK_FOG's Avatar
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    In regard to accessibility to classes, I have given a veteran NPC for an adventrure I am writing 4 fighter levels, and he is of old age; I think that this is more in line with what you have in mind...

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    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    In regard to accessibility to classes, I have given a veteran NPC for an adventrure I am writing 4 fighter levels, and he is of old age; I think that this is more in line with what you have in mind...
    Well, consider that most PC's can reach 4th level in a few months of adventuring...are other humans really this incompetent and stagnant in comparison? To me, this is a ridiculous gap that treats everyone who is not a PC as if they were drooling idiots who go through their entire lives and barely learn a darned thing the whole time. While we all know people who resemble this, is this truly a decent representation of the vast majority of people? Or is it a 4-color daydream of where our heroes are like gods compared to the sea of mulling idiots that surround them? Talk about power-tripping...

    I simply like to give the average person a lot more credit than the D&D system does. And I certainly tend to think that anyone, not just a few lucky individuals fated for greatness, are capable of achieving at least a high level of expertise and competence in their chosen profession...something that a few NPC or PC levels in the D&D system doesn't really represent very well.

    An old veteran soldier could be only a 4th level fighter. But if he was a career soldier for 30 years or so, and was truly dedicated to his work, there's no reason he couldn't be 10th-15th level. His physical stats would be decreased a good deal (-3 each by old age), so he wouldn't be as strong or fast or tough as he once was - but his lifelong experience would make him very good at what he did.

    I just don't care much for the idea that PC's are incredibly exceptional and super-special for some completely arbitrary reason. It allows PC's to have exceptional power and ability without them having to earn it, which means it gets taken for granted most of the time, which leads to immature roleplaying in general. Having a little extra edge, such as higher-than-average ability scores at the start, is OK: this says, "Your characters are talented, with good potential." Weak NPC classes, however, condemn the rest of humanity to be more and more incompetent in comparison to the rising levels of PCs. Not good IMO.

    Anyways, I'm done ranting about that, I don't expect the BRCS to go against the core rules of D&D anyways. Just can't help wishing D&D were a bit more mature in this respect.

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