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Author Topic: Pirates and Mass Combat  (Read 2345 times)
Posts: 1359

Conventions Forum Moderator, First Thoughts Pest

« on: July 07, 2003, 10:49:34 AM »

We had the occasion to push the Bandenkrieg rules to their limits this weekend.

The players were raiding a naval blockade in the mouth of a river with a flotilla of small craft crewed by pirates and bandits. They raided at night under the cover of sorcerously abstracted fog.

The first naval galley was unaware of its impending fate. As the fog rolled down the river and swept it up, it collided with some of the craft hidden in the shroud. Figuring it had collided with a fishing vessel or some such, the galley came about and tried to turn out of the fog bank. As she did so, the pirates and rabble climbed her sides. This triggered the ensuing melee.

The two sides: A band of hundreds rabble, bandits and pirates led by an incredibly potent martial artist (tons of traits, a couple of FoRKs, a magic sword and a G5 sword skill) vs an organized but surprised crew of 50 sailors supported by a dozen heavily armed and armored naval infantry commanded by a competent, if rather nervous, captain.

The hero, Kublai, turned out to be worth 11 dice as a commander.
The naval captain used his Command, Intimidation and Conspicuous skills to get 7 dice.

Each pirate was worth +1 Helping die.
Each sailor was worth +1 Helping die.
Each marine was worth +3 Helping dice (on Armored Offense).

Advantages: The pirates had Murderous to the sailor's Stubborn. The sailors and marines had better position,  but the pirates had surprise and a decent plan. These all cancelled out. The captain had no additional advantageous traits to help him, while Kublai had Lightning Reflexes, Aura of Fear, and a host of others for total of 6 advantage dice. (Making him a 17 die commander!)

The pirates chose to do a "Drive Them Off" for their first action.
Kublai plus 10 pirates (27 dice) vs the captain and 15 sailors. (22 dice) (I determined that all of the sailors could not be brought to bear on the situation.)

Kublai easily won and pushed back the crew. (I privately decided to "prolong the exchange". It would require three fall back type maneuvers to push the crew and marines over board.)

Since more pirates were swarming up the ship I allowed Kublai to roll 2d6 for reinforcements. He got 9 more pirates. On the same token, I gave the captain 10 marines as reinforcements. The marines brought the advantage of repeating crossbows with them.

This amounted to: 36 dice vs 52 dice.
The navy got to choose the type of clash and chose Bloody Clash/Brutal Fight with marines on Armored Offense. Amazingly, Kublai and the pirates won by 8 successes!
Ugh. We divided the Knocked Aside dice between sailors and marines (One thing I realized is that it is crucial NOT to do wounds in the middle of a Prolonged Exchange. Just knock dice aside and keeping going. Worry about aftermath when it is all over.)

The captain had to make a Steel test against his Hesitation plus 8 Ob for the Knocked Aside. He still got his crew as helping dice and thus he passed the test.

That's a lot of dice to handle. We decided to try dividing all the helping dice (not the commander's dice) by a common factor (2) and see if we got similar results.

After losses and reinforcements, this resulted in: 15 dice for the marines and 3 dice for the sailors. Against 13 dice for the pirates.

The Kublai the Pirate King chose to Drive them Back again.
And again he won. Throwing his opponents back to the stern.

For the next exchange, the Captain got 6 marines and 4 sailors as reinforcements.
The pirates got 7 in reinforcements.

He ordered a Bloody Clash.
15 marines plus 8 sailors vs 33 pirates.
The captain orders the Marines into Armored Offense, giving them 45 dice total.  Plus 8 for the pirates and 7 for the captain. 60 dice for the navy!
33 plus 17 for Kublai and company: 50 dice.

For this roll, we also divided by a factor of two. And since it was a Bloody Clash, any knocked aside dice were going to count double on the Wound results chart.

Amazingly, Kublai and company pulled out another huge victory. 8 successes over! Resulting in many wounded and forcing a Steel test. This time the captain was unlucky and failed the Steel test. He had the option to Surrender or Flee. Thinking of the fate of his armored marines in the drink, he opted to surrender.

Game Aftermath:
It was a little rough going at times as we argued about numbers and fuzzy math, but it actually worked fairly well. The results were very satisfying. This mass combat took maybe an hour to resolve (and we actually chose to drag it out), rather than something like this taking all night.

Of course, some folks are going to balk a little at rolling 30 to 60 dice for an encounter. I admit that I am a die fiend, but I do understand the fear of such hordes of dice.

We did another boarding action with another much less powerful character as the leader. His advantages were Surprise, Good Plan, Stubborn trait, and Fanatical Devotion of his followers. The Marines had: Positioning, Drilled Soldiers, Repeating Crossbows, and the Stubborn Trait! All advantages cancelled out.

The numbers were: 50 Marines vs 75 Revolutionary Guard.
Bloody Clash was chosen as the method of engagement. I decided it would be a Wild Fight (random wound/surrender results for the loser).

This time we decided to divide by a factor of 25. The Naval Captain got 2 helping dice and the player got 3. This meant that any dice Knocked Aside were going to count for 25 dead wounded or captured! It ended up we were both rolling 9 dice. The player doubled his dice for the roll.

The Marines won by 4 successes! Enough to wipe out the entire boarding action! The player hastily (and ruefully) dumped another two Deeds points into the roll to reroll his failures. He managed to turn the tide (of disaster) and win by 5 successes.

In this case, we did the entire action with one roll, and rolled less than 10 dice each. It took about 5-10 minutes to negotiate advantages and take care of aftermath. Very quick, very neat, very satisfying.


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