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Taking Command


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#1 WarbossTae

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 03:24 AM

WHAT UP PLAYAAAAAAHS!?!?!?!

 

In No Surrender, when the Imperial forces land on the star fort and are securing their "beachhead", an NPC officer takes command, sending out scouts, distributing equipment, securing the wounded, setting up temporary fortifications, and advancing the able bodied squads forward while the walking wounded hunker down and guard the seriously injured until the way ahead is clear, a landing zone is secured, and reinforcements can safely transfer them to a more permanent strongpoint.  I thought it was a great way for PCs to observe an officer taking charge and doing things by the book (Tactica Imperialis).  Textbook awesome!

 

As the adventure continues, the PCs' (hopefully) heroic and competent actions give them the option of accepting battlefield promotion and taking command of a squad or two, then a platoon, then finally a company, and ordered to complete certain objectives in these new leadership roles.  I assumed this was only for Sergeant or Commander classes, but I couldn't find where the book specifies that only those two can be put in charge through a battlefield promotion by dint of survival and lack of other officers.

 

My question was, if the line grunts decide they want to move up the chain of command, how do you help your PCs to do their job correctly?  Is there a section in the rulebook or any supplement that details the actual commanding of others (not just the skill that determines if people listen to you).  

 

Something that says, "Sergeants get 10 man squads.  Usually one carries a special weapon and another two are armed with a heavy weapon.  There may also be one trooper assigned a vox unit to communicate with the Platoon leader.  Sergeants deal with recon/house to house assault/advancing through enemy held trenchs/etc by doin A, B, and C, blah blah blah...Lieutenants and their platoons (regular squads as well as conscripts/heavy/special/veteran squads) need to coordinate with their sergeants to set up overlapping fields of fire/preliminary bombardment from heavy weapons/flanking veterans that blah blah blah..." all the way up to company commander?  

 

Basically, how do you handle your PCs moving up in the IG without just giving them a codex: IG book?

 

There is some serious number crunching by the end of No Surrender and I think it would be more enjoyable for a player taking command to feel like he or she has at least some rudimentary knowledge (ESPECIALLY if their character has Common Knowledge Tactica Imperialis!)


Edited by WarbossTae, 30 December 2013 - 03:25 AM.


#2 Nightcloak

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 07:31 AM

well thats a problem with the IG, there is no one way things are done
some regiments draw officers from noble blood only, other do it by ritualistic duels and so fort

the Cadians work much like a modern army, Sergeants are basiclally expierienced grunts with maybe a few extra trainings and every higher officer is usually drawn from officer school

altough fieldpromotions are not that uncommon due to the high attritionrate of Ig regiments

 

so basically you can do it the way you like or follow the Tactica Imperialis, i think there is a lot on that matter in the Imperial Infantrymen's Uplifting Primer (an actual book from GW)



#3 Tenebrae

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 07:55 AM

so basically you can do it the way you like or follow the Tactica Imperialis, i think there is a lot on that matter in the Imperial Infantrymen's Uplifting Primer (an actual book from GW)

Not a lot exactly, but something I think.



#4 segara82

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 08:29 AM

As Nightcloak said. So it seems best to first establish how the CoC works in your regiment. Are all officers old-schooled and of noble decent? Are they more like Heinlein's Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie) and every man/woman has to first survive a tour of duty before they can assume higher ranks? Or are Sergeants and other NCOs usually promoted from the ranks, officers rather rarely? Get an answer to those questions and make a list of the ranks and their priviliges/duties. Maybe go all Sharpe and make one a Lt. ^^

Courage is the mastery of fear - not the absence of fear


#5 Darck Child

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 10:41 AM

As Nightcloak said. So it seems best to first establish how the CoC works in your regiment. Are all officers old-schooled and of noble decent? Are they more like Heinlein's Starship Troopers (the book, not the movie) and every man/woman has to first survive a tour of duty before they can assume higher ranks? Or are Sergeants and other NCOs usually promoted from the ranks, officers rather rarely? Get an answer to those questions and make a list of the ranks and their priviliges/duties. Maybe go all Sharpe and make one a Lt. ^^

 

But it would still be nice to see examples in a source book...  An outline of how things are done from several different  Regimental points of view...



#6 WarbossTae

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:43 AM

Thanks for the responses guys!

 

I personally like a mixture of different approaches.  I like the Heinlein method (loved the book in high school, still read Starship Troopers every couple years, its so awesome), and it gives the PCs a chance to start play as they want, like an Operator or Medic, then have to take command as battle attrition takes its toll.  It also makes sense incorporating the advanced Commander path as it can be taken from any career (as I read Hammer of the Emperor) as long as the player pays the XP.  Players can decide if they want to advance up the ranks or stay where they're comfortable as a lower ranked trooper.  

 

Have any of you thought of how to address the issues of PCs actually taking command, though?  I anticipate some trouble when my players become the new commanders of a company or even platoon of troopers and not knowing what to do when I give them their orders.  In No Surrender, the NPC LIeutenant very obviously knows how to handle the chaos of the battlefield (the writers even use bullet points to show the order of his...orders).  

 

First, he'll send out scouts to recon, then distribute equipment, secure wounded, advance able bodied troopers forward to rendezvous with scouts who will report their findings while en route to the objective.  I'm afraid of my non-military players simply saying, "...uhhh, I advance the company forward" with no concept of strategy because the rulebook (at least, as far as I can see) doesn't tell you how to command a large group of troopers effectively. 

 

Also, as a GM, I'm not quite sure myself of the best way to handle a large command and keep track of hundreds of troopers working intelligently in their specialized tasks at the same time, and what the 'optimal' route forward is.  That's one of my issues with No Surrender.  It gives you the resources, but I find it doesn't do a very good job of guiding you to using them. Like a father giving his 16 year old son the keys to a four wheel drive hummer and letting him go off-roading when the boy's never driven before, I feel like we get some awesome opportunities to do very epic Upper Brass level stuff by the end of the adventure, but we just get stuck in first gear because we haven't been taught how to utilize it.  Sorry if so rambly, I had a lot of coffee this morning!



#7 WarbossTae

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:45 AM

Oh, you know what, I do have the new Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer!  I haven't read through it yet, just skimmed it, but I thought that was more of a fluff book to show just how much hilarious propaganda the standard IG trooper gets inundated with, rather than a book on tactics and command.  I'll have to dive in deeper to say for sure, though.  



#8 segara82

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:35 PM

Looking into my old UP i think your ranks should go up from Trooper over Corporal, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain to Major, maybe Lt. Col.

And when one looks into the Codizes then Sergeants order squads of up to 10 people around, Lieutenants boss around a platoon up to 50 soldiers (+ command staff), Captains and Majors get to push around a whole company.

For simplicity's sake use the mob rules from the Core Book, or simply treat every npc-squad (friend and foe)  like a single person/thing.

As for how to handle such a large command: There is a reason it is taught in schools, since it is quite a lot.

For short: Keep your men alive, kill the enemy, make it home in one peace.

Let your officer tell your troops that. Helps morale ;)


Courage is the mastery of fear - not the absence of fear


#9 Nightcloak

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:56 PM

well ive learned this doing liveactionroleplaying:
dont try to be something that you cannot be, e.g. small fat guy wants to be a legolas elf
or in your case doing a high command job if you lack the education, i know it sucks and its something some players might want to experience but its actually a deskjob and mostly numbercrunching

giving your players a platton of a few squads for a combat mission and handling the via mob-rules works quiet well but going higher from there is rather tedious, especially considering that only one player can be major or whatnot and everyone else is just his lackey

a sergeant may be the boss of the squad but every specialist has his moments which are massivly diminished if everything is remotly done via commands

 

at least that has been my experience and why my players have suffered massive attrition and altough their highest ranking player is lieutenant in command of a company (for the timne being since there is noone more senior) the company is a company in name only is is a 4 squad platton


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#10 venkelos

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 01:07 PM

I'd say, in some ways, the book specifically DOESN'T do this, because the game wants to keep you a frontliner trooper, doing the jobs no one else can. I don't mean to insult officers of the military, especially any real ones who read and post here, but it is often believed, if not blatantly true, that as you go up in rank, you become more distant, and less involved. The Major doesn't usually go out onto the field of battle; he sends regiments of troops to do it, while he oversees the base. Many more men fall under his command, and they quickly stop being people to him, but just resources that he deploys. He doesn't know them, and WILL send them off to die, even if it is only to buy a few seconds of time for something else. If you got promoted, you would sort of have to leave the squad, as the rest might not have promoted, and then you make a new character.

 

That said, I do, occasionally, wish that they would release some material for bigger scale things. It COULD be cool to be a higher-ranked Officer, with some Horde (DW) groups at your disposal, and you could add traits to them via your presence/commands. This could also be a more acceptable time for artillery to appear, as grunts shouldn't have any interactions with a Basilisk that they aren't disabling, or bein blown away by, from half a mile away.


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#11 WarbossTae

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 04:50 PM

Thanks for the responses, everyone. I had another idea. A sidebar in No Surrender talks about small cinematic "cutscenes" that the PCs don't directly experience, but that you describe to the players to enhance the atmosphere.

For example, describing the navy pilots flying directly into the overwhelming barrages of the star fort's batteries and lances. Or a Vostroyan Void Shrike trooper that survives the landing, then advances into the cargo hold expecting minimal resistance before being torn into ribbons by the unexpected mass heavy weapons and devil dogs stationed there in ambush.

I thought a similar 'sidebar' cutscene could therefore play when the Field Commanders are involved with making large tactical decisions that trickle down to affect the PCs. For example, one of your players takes control of a company commander long enough to decide whether to send the PCs squad scouting into the forward munitions bay, or to secure the current position with barricades, etc.

Tell your players that their squad will only be able to participate in one of these "side quests" before the timeline forces the regiment to pursue the main objective. This will make the players feel like they have some control of the "upper brass" decisions without burdening them with command rules and minutiae like no longer being a standard grunt. Then let them know what the rewards for potential paths could be: scouting the munitions bay may result in more ammo and weapons or even vehicles and heavy artillery, but leave your forces open to attack because they weren't there to help he regiment hold the line and vice versa. This way, the PCs get to feel as if they're part of the command structure for just a brief while,before jumping back into the shoes of their main characters!

When the PCs take part in a giant battle, they can likewise "jump" into the field commander at certain moments, who must decide how to use the PCs squad, what heavy weapons or air support they get, which route of advance they take, do they go for the enemy HQ or are they sent to disable enemy artillery, Etc.

This jumping around is just like the kind done in Call of Duty or GTA V, except on a small scale, just long enough for the PCs to get a taste of what happens in the command bunker and to feel as if they are, in some way, affecting the flow of battle while primarily being down and dirty in the trenches doing the actual slogging.

What do you all think?

Edited by WarbossTae, 03 January 2014 - 05:37 PM.





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