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Luddite

Handling underlings during combat?

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OK so a few sessions into my RT campaign i'm finding a bit of a problem which i hope you experienced GMs can give me some wisdom on.

 

The problem:

 

So here's the scenario:

 

The PCs lead a landing party - Captain (Rogue Trader), Arch militant, and Tech Priest.  They bring with them a team of 30 soldiers, 20 "scientists", and 10 work-Servitors, and set up a camp on the planet ready to explore.

 

While out on a patrol, the Arch militant, together with 10 soldiers, encounters an ambush by 12 feral orks.  

 

So the problem is, how do you run this sort of mixed combat where you have PCs and "mooks" (or redshirts, or whatever term you like).

 

If the PC isn't present i simply roll the Soldiers' 30% skill to make a judgement call on wether they fight off the orks, or get butchered (making the decision based on DoS/DoF).

 

But when the PC is there...it gets complicated.

 

Have i missed some rules for this somewhere?

 

How have you handled these situations?

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In my current campaign we haven't run into that situation, but in past campaigns mooks usually only had a single wound.  I rolled for damage, and I considered armor and toughness bonus but if even 1 wound got through then that mook was out for the combat.  As the PCs gained leadership talents (e.g Iron Discipline) I let that 1 wound limit grow, but the whole idea was to streamline.

 

Given some experience in the game, my players would usually either go with their elite landing party and few retainers, or they would go for a full scale invasion with multiple landing craft disgorging their contents that proceed to set up a defensive perimeter before the PCs ever set foot on the ground.

 

Large combats can bog down game play and turn the game into something that really isn't about the players.  If becomes more about the dynasty's resources.  That's okay, but narrate through it.  Let the mooks dispatch the problem while the PCs wave their weapons about and look important.  That caters to some players, but some want the glory of being spattered with gore.  If that's the case, then...if their opponent causes fear then I assume the worst; even if the mooks make their WP check they won't be making attacks.  If the mooks are armed with lasguns then they aren't going to make a mark on Rak'Gol, and not much on Orks.

 

Think about these combat situations before you even throw them at your characters.  If you don't want to play it out then don't introduce the encounter; change it entirely.  For example, if you want a real combat challenge don't use Orks, use a squiggoth.  If you want the PCs to move, don't use 30 Orks, use 3000.  If you want the PCs to fight 30 Orks then either give them the wherewithal to quicly dispatch 30 Orks or be ready for an hours-long combat.

 

Most importantly, ask your players what method they want to use to adjudicate these situations.  My current players simply aren't into large tactical combats, and that's fine with me.  They tell me how they expect things to go.  I make some rolls; they make some rolls.  I might say that a baddie gets through their lines and they have to fight a personal combat with it, maybe with a stray shot entering the fight.  I always ask them if a certain outcome is acceptable before I rule it as final and move on.

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I have been guilty of, at one time when my players were insufficiently motivated, pointing out that what appeared to be the entire population of Gettysburg and Hanover, having gone to the steroid gym and painted itself green, was shouting crude things about their mothers and rushing towards them whilst brandishing rusted meat cleavers.

You've never seen a perimiter defence fence built quite so fast, Creative use of underlings included.

An earlier fight with guardsmen and orks boiled down to a slog and a lot of dice rolling. Wouldn't suggest too much of that.

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Narrating it is good. Example: PC makes Scholastic Lore (War) / Command test, degrees of success / failures mean less / more casualties. Have the base set by the opposition, position/environment and resources at their command. Meaning, regular house conceited troops with guardsmen equipment, facing an ambush by feral orks of about half their size, in close proximity or confined space, would probably be a -20 or -30 on a command test. Each failure means that many orks PC has to face in hand to hand combat with the base 50% casualty rate with increased by +5% per dof. PC wins hand to hand with orks, battle is success but with heavy casualties as stated above.

With that said, facing same opposition, with you leading ambush, with enemy at distance, would probably be +20. With base casualty at like 15% or 25% with +/-5% per dos/dof. Bigger battle means a few more die rolls and a few more personal combat scenarios that can sway the fight to victory or defeat.

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I'm starting to experience with a Horde-ish rule in the coming sessions, assuming the opportunity presents itself.

 

Basically, you pick the best weapon profile for any given situation, and grant +5 to the attack roll for every squad member able to contribute supporting attacks, then roll for attack once. Every DoS grants an additional hit up to the combined RoF of every squad member with an identical weapon. In melee, only squad mates with an actual melee weapon contribute to the attack. If the squad is attacked in return, you could still let them target individual squad members, roll for a random target, or just scratch out a random member every 10 damage or so, though the latter makes handling differences in armour troublesome.

 

It makes well-equipped troops very dangerous - but thats not all that bad in my eyes, since it rewards actually equipping those people. I'm also pondering about some way for the Command skill to make them more effective. Our Rogue Trader is more of a commander than a straight-forward warrior. Might be rewarding.

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When you say Horde, I think of Deathwatch's variant, and that CAN be a bit much for people less squishy than a Space Marine, even if a Rogue Trader and Co. do have among the best excuse for access to virutally any equipment; even the Astartes need Renown, and a Requisition cap.

 

I suppose part of it depends on how much of a "horde" there really is, and to whom it belongs. If both you, and the bad guys, have them, the bulk of each will just fight each other, and you can handle it narratively, maybe have each roll a few tests, and lose a percentage based on who gets more DoS, while you fight their leadership people. If only they do, you might have an easier time using RT resources to thing their numbers, prior to an attack; it can depend on lots of things.

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Yep, I understood, but without knowing what you were using, and what you were changing, all I had to go on was the rules for DW's hordes, which have been brought up here, a few times, and on OW stuff more; sort of hurt for anyone not an Astartes! ;)  Here's hoping what you're using does work nicely; best of luck.

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Basically its just what I've elaborated on in my first post.

 

It's a reasonably simple system able to deal with most situations. I'm only slightly worried about what happens when an entire squad is armed with meltas... Then again, I'm also worried what happens when 10 different NPCs shoot at people with meltas, so that's probably no worse at all. :)

 

Using those rules, a ten-man Stormtrooper squad is certainly still less dangerous than a well-made arch-militant, but dangerous nonetheless. I'll see how it works out in practice, and not just in numbers.

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Now that I got to use it: It worked reasonably well, even with 50 Hellgun armoured Stormtroopers - though anything less sturdy than that TB16 demon would've not survived. Then again, against 50 hellguns...

 

It was very, very swift in combat too; at least when they're not doing anything fancier than shooting stuff. I want to add some command-based actions at some point so the RT gets to flex her command, but I'm already reasonably content with the mechanic.

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I like what Ive read here!
I've just sent a link to your post for my RT GM to have a look at. 

I like combat on a personal scale, but streamlining the rules for larger conflicts I'm always keen for.

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I'm glad you find it useful.

 

There's a few other considerations I've taken to, such as simplifying the body part being hit or averaging out the damage, but that might not always be a smart idea. For weapons not actually requiring an attack but some sort of dodge roll, you can just add a -5 penalty instead of adding +5 BS/WS

 

Obviously, it works best with troops sharing largely similar equipment, too, and I'm not recommending it with troops using RAW Stormbolters or similar dice insanities. Think normal lasguns, here.

 

I've written it down here as well: http://chaotz.ch/fh/index.php?title=Truppen_im_Bodenkampf

 

It's in german though, so it may not be of much use. 

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I just ran a session where there was two PCs and four important NPCs along with a half dozen armsmen fighting a modified clawed fiend. I just said that the armsmen dealt 1d5 minus number of them that died damage. Worked great.

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