Monday, 19 December 2011

Warband: Abstract Skirmishing for Redwald

Ðeofas we hatað oð vii men 
from vii hloð oð xxxv
 
siððan bið here

Less than seven men shall be called thieves,
from seven to thirty five are a band,
more are an army.

From the Laws of Ine

Eventually the player characters are going to end up leading a warband of their own. At first this is likely to be ten or so reluctant Fyrdmen. In the end though, as they become lords in their own right, they’re likely to lead a warband of thirty swords and skirmishers. With a few warbands at their command a kingdom is theirs for the taking.

Abstract Skirmishing
In Redwald anything between seven and thirty-five men are a Warband, over thirty-five men and you have an army. This rules are aimed more at skirmishing between two warbands, rather than multiple warbands, or armies in the hundreds. However, if you wish to do that it should be easy enough to do.
By ‘abstract skirmishing’ means the action unfolds in much the same way as normal combat: no map, grid, or minis, each to-hit roll doesn’t equate to a single blow, and a loss of HP doesn’t necessarily represent a wound.


The Warband
The warband’s stats are derived from whichever troop type is the majority. For example; if you have a 12 man warband made up of 10 Frydmen and 2 Thegns will use the stats of the Frydmen. So it’s always best to make sure the majority of  warband is made up of superior troops. However, each character, elite or special unit in a warband adds a +1 bonus to the HD up to a max of +4. The rest of the stat block is taken straight from bestiary entries, apart from HP which are derived from the number of men who make up the warband.
Here’s our warband . . .

AC: 6 [13]; Hit Dice: 1; HP: 12; Attacks: 1 Gár (1d6)or Seax 1d3+1; Special: For Gold and Glory ; Move: 10; HDE/XP: 1/30; Morale: 7.

If we add 4 player characters the warband would look like this . . .

AC: 6 [13]; Hit Dice: 1+4; HP: 16; Attacks: 1 Gár (1d6)or Seax 1d3+1; Special: For Gold and Glory ; Move: 10; HDE/XP: 1/30; Morale: 7.

Some Player Characters also have special bonuses . . .

Magic Users and Skirmishers
All the magic users add +1 to their own warband’s Morale and -1 to the enemies Morale. All Skirmishers add +1 to-hit and +1 to Move if the majority of the warband is made up of Skirmishers, with the exception of the Dwarf Death dealer who add +1 to Morale, +2 to-hit, but  -2 to Move.

Warriors
Warriors are the only Character type that can lead warbands, and each race has its own bonuses.

Dwarf Shieldbrothers add +1 to the Warband’s morale and -1[+1] to their AC if the majority of the warband has shields and is in the shieldwall formation.  These bonuses are doubled if the character is the warband’s leader.

Wildling Battle Strong add +1 to Morale and Damage if the majority of the warband has  2-Handed weapons and is in the Boar formation. These bonuses are doubled if the character is the warband’s leader.

Elven Wood Guard add +1 to Morale and +1 to Move if the majority of the warband is lightly armoured and in loose formation. These bonuses are doubled if the character is the warband’s leader.

Shield Maidens add +1 to Morale and +1 to-hit if the majority of the warband have spears, and are in standard formation. These bonuses are doubled if the character is the warband’s leader.

It’s at the referee’s discretion what bonuses and when they apply, are added by any elite or special NPC’s in either the enemy or the allied warbands.
As well as these class based bonuses the leader Int and Chr also provide a bonus. The leader’s Chr bonus is applied to Morale and his Int bonus is added to the Warband’s to-hit, and Move, and Initiative.

Tactics, Positioning, and Roleplaying
Just as in normal combat roleplaying, tactics, and positioning should be an integral part of good abstract combat. Positioning, such as attacking from the flank or rear, should be rewarded with a bonus +1 to-hit for flanking, and +2 for attacks from behind. Any warband being attacked from behind also suffers a -1 penalty to morale.

Tactics and Roleplaying are almost the same thing when it comes to combat, but it’s down to the players to come up with cunning plans, and sneaky schemes to gain battlefield advantage. Setting up ambushes, choosing the battle ground, using terrain to advantage, morale raising rousing speeches, all of these can be achieved via roleplaying before the battle starts. Pulling off tactical movements during the battle, like screening the warband with skirmishers to hide formation changes, should affect the outcome of the battle to. Again, these tactics are down to the players to decide upon, and the referee to rule on. If in doubt a bonus of +1 to +3 can be given, and a roll to see if the enemy leader realises what’s happening are always handy.

Formations
There are only a few basic formations utilised by Redwald’s warbands . . .

Standard Formation – Requires at least 20 men. In standard formation the warriors are organised into two ranks or more. Warriors with reach weapons can attack from the second, and sometimes third rank. Standard formation is prone to missile fire and enemy skirmishers gain +1 to-hit, and damage.  Warriors with anything other than stabbing and short-hafted hacking weapons, such as hand axes, spears, 1 handed swords, fight at -1 to-hit, and Damage in this formation.

Loose Formation – In this spread out and open formation warriors are less prone to missile fire (-1 to-hit and dam), but suffer a -1 Morale pen when going toe-to-toe with, or charged by, opponents in closed formations. Warriors armed with 2-Handed slashing and swing weapons get +2 to hit in this formation.

Shieldwall –  The men form into line and interlock their shields, making it impossible for the enemy to pass or break them unless the shieldwall has been broken (by doing at least 6 HP worth of damage to the warband in one round). The shieldwall add -2 [+2] to AC and +1 to Morale, +3 if they can’t be flanked, but -3 to Move. If the Shieldwall is broken the warband loses its AC and morale bonus and in the next round attacks at -1, is attacked at +2 to-hit and Damage. Warriors with anything other than stabbing and short-hafted hacking weapons, such as hand axes, spears, 1 handed swords, fight at -1 to-hit, and Damage in this formation.

Boar’s Head – This is a wedge shaped formation used for charging and breaking shieldwalls or enemy ranks. It requires the majority of the men to be armed with heavy 2-Handed swinging and slashing weapons. If most of them are also well armoured they gain a +2 Morale bonus. When they charge the enemy they get +3 to-hit and damage on their first charge against close formations. After that the formation breaks up and they fight in loose formation until ordered otherwise by their leader.

To change from any formation to Loose or Standard formation takes 1 round, to change from any formation to Boar’s Head or Shieldwall takes 2 rounds. If a formation change is attempted during melee a morale roll must be made first.

4 comments:

  1. Seems like just the right amount of detail for an add-on to an rpg. It doesn't turn the game into a minatures game or anything.

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  2. Yeah, I felt that this type of setting needed to be able to handle warband against warband, but I didn't want to have detailed wargaming rules,or minis, maps, etc.

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  3. Short and elegant - my favourite qualities of a rule set.

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