Sunday, September 18, 2011

Experimental Samurai Battle

Testing yesterday's table-based mass combat system. I borrowed the two samurai armies that Noisms made up using his generator for my example because completely statted armies with disaggregated units complete with levels, weapons, and armor classes don't grow on trees.

Some additions/clarifications to the rules I've made:

Because they are extra mobile and can often run through other troops, cavalry appears more often on the chart than their numbers would indicate--heavy cavalry appears 3 times as much as a normal unit of their size, medium appears 4 times, light cavalry appears 5 times. i.e. if the enemy sees you slicing through them they can more easily send cavalry to intercept you than a foot unit.

Assume the archers are backing up some other unit (so it's essentially a 2-on-1 fight) and that the archer automatically gets to take a shot before the units close. Once the melee units have rolled initiative, archers may fire if they want, but a miss will hit their own guy (speeds things up). The attacking unit does not have to close with the archers to win that stage of the fight if the battle isn't mapped out in enough detail for that to be clear how that works, s/he just has to take out the other melee soldier. However, the archer gets one more shot on the enemy after the melee opponent goes down.

(If there were horse archers I would just run them as a normal fight.)

I assume spells capable of affecting large groups of people count as part of the battle, but I attached them to specific units unless they usually cause damage on their own.

For this particular battle, since the smallest units have 39 members, I used that as the base unit of measurement--i.e. for every 39 foot troops = one result on the table, for every 39 light cav = 5 results on the table, 39 med cav = 4 results, etc.

Lord Bakayaro's cavalry units each had 49 soldiers so I just added one more result to the table for each of his cavalry units.

For this engagement, I chose the simple, head-to-head option. That is: the 2 army lists are short, the "active" player is whichever side gets initiative (until s/he loses a fight, in which case the other player becomes active), and the winner of the last fight before the winning side burns through the other side's table is the winner of the whole thing.

Here is the line-up for the two sides

Lord Bakayaro_________

1 light infantry
2 lt inf
3 lt inf
4 lt inf
5 lt inf
8 heavy inf
9 heavy inf w/archers 0-lvl
10 heavy inf w/archers 0-lvl
11 light cav 0-level
12 lt cav
13 lt cav
14 lt cav
15 lt cav
16 lt cav
17 med cav
18 md cav
19 md cav
20 md cav
21 md cav

Lord Do-Aho

1 Light infantry
2 lt inf
3 lt inf
4 lt inf
7 light cav
8 lt cav
9 lt cav
10 lt cav
11 Heavy cavalry
12 Heavy cav
13 Heavy cavalry (hasted)
14 lt cav (attack from rear after "wall of stone")
15 lt cav (attack from rear after "wall of ice")
16 Heavy infantry w/ archers o-lvl (massmorphed and hidden)
17 Light infantry (w/3 sleep spells)
18 2-handed sword samurai (w/3 web spells)
19 Fireball (40' diameter sphere)

Clearly Bakayaro is the underdog here.

Let's roll initiative.

B: 4 DA: 6

Since Bakayaro's most powerful forces are fairly weak, DA is going to go for a shock and awe strategy, but is still going to keep his most powerful units in reserve. So: Unsupported heavy cavalry leads.

Fight 1:

Mounted Samurai - 1-Level Fighters, 10 hp, naginata, longsword (katana), heavy banded mail, AC 3

vs....roll a d4, add 3 for the horse's HD and 1 for fighter level, giving us...8! DA's men have penetrated deep into Bakayaro's lines and are now facing heavy infantry...

Foot Samurai - 1-Level Fighters, 10 hp, long spear, longsword (katana), heavy splint mail, AC 3

DA's mounted samurai win initiative. DM rules that since they're in the middle of a huge melee the samurai can either go for a trample or a regular attack on any given opponent, not both. The samurai graciously allows the horse to attack since it has a better chance and 3 attacks. It hits twice for...7 and then 3.

That's that for Bakayaro's heavy infantry, they suffer 10% casualties and are no longer a factor.

Since DA won, he keeps the initiative and rolls d4 + 4 again and adds it to 8 (since he was already at result 8 on the table) where he already was...16! Lord Overkill is on fire today.

Fight 2:

Mounted Samurai - 1-Level Fighters, 10 hp, naginata, longsword (katana), heavy banded mail, AC 3


Mounted Samurai - 1-Level Fighters, 8 hp, naginata, short bow, longsword (katana), brigandine armour, AC 5

Initiative to DA again...DM rules the samurai can either have the horse bite for d3 or attack normally. Attacker swings his katana and...miss, his opponent also misses (due to BA's superior armor--that banded mail was a good investment), he hits for 5, opponent misses, he hits again for 7. The unit lasted 3 rounds, thus taking 30% casualties.

DA is kicking ass, if he rolls over a 1, he's gone off the chart and it's all over...


DA wins after 2 fights and 4 rounds of combat.

DA's heavy cavalry unit got in 2 fights, thus 20% casualties.

DA's other units take d% casualties per unit--no modifiers since they didn't lose any "spotlight" battles. Lord B's other units take d% +10% casualties since they lost 2 fights.


Advantages: it's fast and gives us the outline of a story about about how the battle went.

Disadvantages: if the players are playing one (or both) of the sides and the battle is this small (only 20 results on the table)--and they had some investment in building the tables--I can see them being disappointed that they didn't get to see their more interesting units fight. This might be somewhat remedied by running the PCs-are-always-active version, but a quick-resolution system is a quick-resolution system and there still seems (if you don't have the patience for such things that all DMs do) like there's an imbalance between building the army and seeing it play out.

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