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gtgauvin

Mass Combat and Mixed Planetary/ Starship Forces

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I got Lead by Example about a month or so ago, and I'm chomping at the bit to do a mass combat. One thing I'm wondering, though, is how do you handle battles that involve both ground units and starfighters. Imagine Scarif in Rogue One, where there was a lot of interplay between the actions of ground, air and space forces. Do you do separate rolls for Planetary and Starship battles, or would you scale up the Starship forces to reflect the asymmetrical threat which starships pose to Planetary forces ( sorry, dozen Wookie warriors; you're not going to beat a squadron of starfighters)?

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5 hours ago, gtgauvin said:

( sorry, dozen Wookie warriors; you're not going to beat a squadron of starfighters)?

If one blind guy with a lightbow can down a TIE starfighter, then a dozen Wookiees with their own bowcasters should have a chance against a squadron, right?

Seriously though, just separate the battle into stages (or theaters if they are all happening at the same time). Weigh the outcomes as you see best fits the battle. For example, at Endor, no space victory would really have been possible for the Rebels if the ground forces on the moon failed.

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The answer will also vary with the objective. A full assault to capture a major planet will be a completely different proposition than a supply raid on a remote outpost.

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The mission I'm working on now is a guerrilla infiltration where the PCs need to capture and hold the command center of a Holonet hub while a transmission is made. The characters have the option to call in starfighters and landing craft to deposit ground forces to draw off the base defenses while they complete their mission.

 

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They use both ground and "air" forces in Friends Like These.

If they can participate (such as fighters providing air support or capital ship bombardment), then they're added into the roll as normal.

A squadron of Ties might add an additional Setback to the difficulty, and a squadron of X-wings might add a Boost, etc.

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On 7/21/2018 at 9:11 AM, gtgauvin said:

The mission I'm working on now is a guerrilla infiltration where the PCs need to capture and hold the command center of a Holonet hub while a transmission is made. The characters have the option to call in starfighters and landing craft to deposit ground forces to draw off the base defenses while they complete their mission.

 

I'd run it like so:

Set up the battle plan with several moving parts,one of which is the players focus and the rest being cut-aways (kinda like Scarif). So while the players are running the core mission, there's supporting action going on off-camera.

Set up an encounter tree with the first at the bottom, and then branching out as the battle progresses and different options kick in. 

So like step 1 might be to get past the outer perimiter, where the players will have deal with some basic outer security features and a small patrol.

After that you make your first Mass Combat check to see how the larger operation is going with the players actions in the preceding encounter adding modifiers.

So like if it's successful, it's going to plan, the players are in position for the next phase (let's say phase 2 is a diversion so the players  can hit the command center). Advantage means something like they also show up right before shift change, so the Imperials defending the command center won't be as organized when they move in. Triumph adds a bonus like a blaster turret is down for repairs, or the staffing officer or a visiting VIP right now happens to also be a high value target. Failure means the players are running behind and will need to do the next leg faster or suffer more penalties on the next Mass Combat check. Threat means the Imperial shift change happened early, so this crew in in position and all ready for action. Despair means something like the players earlier handy work has been detected and the command center is now on alert.

Next they have to blast thier way in and start the transmission. 

Next Mass Combat can make reinforcements and close air support available, or maybe just one or the other if the Mass Combat check isn't perfect. If it's imperfect, then perhaps Imperial reinforcements arrive too.

 

Rinse, repeat until clean.

 

You can also have totally different encounters generated. Perhaps one mass combat check result has all the Imperials land outside the base and push in, allowing the players to focus their defense and utilize the bases defenses. A less positive result might have the Imperials drop a few squads right on the roof, forcing the players to fight off the Troopers while reinforcement rebel troops hold the ground floor (possibly generating a sub-mass combat check to see if the players need to rush back down to the lobby).

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A week before last Tuesday my group participated in the Battle of Thyferra.  It was an interesting series of conflicts for the PC's and the players got their mission accomplished and felt pretty good about themselves, but hadn't realized that they had engaged in one of the major battles of the Rebellion!

OKay the Battle of Thyferra should really be classified as a strike and fade raid, but it worked and the PC's played a pivotal role.

The important thing for me with this encounter was to keep the focus on the PC's and what they were aware of.  So when there were spaceships exploding above them, they perceived that part of the space battle.

There were occasional updates from a radio operator, but those were delivered from the perspective of the radio operator and focused mostly on that team's part of the mission.

There was ONE side battle that did occur that was adjacent to the PC's and there was enough "random chance" that I took the skilled capabilities of both "teams" and rolled combat skill checks to see how capable either party would be.  The results were close enough that I decided as the GM that this combat was going to be a fairly long battle, but decisive enough that the Imperials were going to win.

And I'm remembering that there was another skirmish that I resolved in this simple manner too.  A handful of SOG rebel agents pinned down and defending their position against stock Imperial Army forces.  SOG cleaned the Empire in this combat and did so fairly quickly.  This allowed the rest of the group to chase down the troopers who had captured one of the PC's.  There was a dramatic rescue and it was awesome!

 

As for advice, the thing to remember in a mass combat situation is that the mass combat may largely be irrelevant to the PC's and as a GM you only need to focus on what it is that the PC's are doing.

I'm reminded by the opening scene to the Firefly series where Malcolm and Zoe pull off a dramatic turn around in the battle at Serenity Valley, stopping the enemy from advancing and clearing out the sky in their sector, only to learn that the rest of the troops around them were dead or retreating and that their side was surrendering.  We know as an audience (and the characters) that there is a greater conflict going on, but what is really relevant is the fighting happening in the immediate vicinity.

Those are my thoughts and experiences.

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Just a quick shoutout that in the AoR module Friends like these, the battle scenario involves both space and ground combat, so you may wish to take a look at that - also as it is broken down to phases, it does a great job of teaching you how to implement MAss Combat into a game.

Generally though, a check on an MC phase is really wide-spread in scope. If the advantages, triumphs allow, you could have a dozen wookie warriors grapple on top of a TIE wing, tear open the hatches and murder the pilots - similarly to how Chewie took command of an ATST during the battle of Endor. Or them rushing to beat down the crew of an E-WEB and turn the gunnery weapon on the approaching vehicles. Just go for whatever looks cinematically cool, really.

I'm not a big fan of the Clone Wars pilot film specifically, but we've seen AT-TE walkers overcome a sheer cliff face hundreds of meters tall during the battle of Teth. It1s start wars, backed by the narrative dice system, so the only thing impossible in the game is whatever you and your players fail to think of at the time.

Edited by Darth Lectus

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3 hours ago, Darth Lectus said:

Just a quick shoutout that in the AoR module Friends like these, the battle scenario involves both space and ground combat, so you may wish to take a look at that - also as it is broken down to phases, it does a great job of teaching you how to implement MAss Combat into a game.

I would disagree with the suggestion that the mass combat in Friends Like These does a "great job" of teaching anything other than how to roll dice pointlessly to arrive at the next stop of the railroad.

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