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Shawnacy

How to resolve PCs vs an Army.

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I am running a single-planet based campaign where the PCs are assisting a fledgling wild-space colony deal with external threats. One such threat is on its way to the town and it stands to be the climax of the scenario. 

An army of droids from a Separatist ship that crashed 20 years ago has been re-activated and are marching towards the town. It is being lead by a Tactical droid that refuses to believe the war is over.

Now what perplexes me is that I need for ways that a group of PCs can somehow Seven Samurai this situation and defeat the droid army despite the crushing odds.

Thoughts and suggestions? 

And thank you guys for your creativity and time. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. 

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Posted (edited)

They should be able to talk thing out if they can get to the Tactical Droid. I mean, even if the war was still going on, a fledgling colony in Wild Space is obviously not a part of the Republic (if anything, it's closer to a Separatist settlement), and not a valid military target for the droids, and definitely not the original target because the colony wasn't there yet when he got his orders.

Recruiting the droids as a permanent addition to the colony should be an option.

Edited by micheldebruyn

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, micheldebruyn said:

They should be able to talk thing out if they can get to the Tactical Droid. I mean, even if the war was still going on, a fledgling colony in Wild Space is obviously not a part of the Republic (if anything, it's closer to a Separatist settlement), and not a valid military target for the droids, and definitely not the original target because the colony wasn't there yet when he got his orders.

My story thus-far is that the ship that drops off the PCs on the planet is a older Republic ship that's been refitted for Imperial wild-space shipments. The scanners on the crashed Separatist frigate pick up the Republic signature which begins reactivating the droids and systems. The over 20 years powered down with no maintenance has increased the Tactical Droid's arrogance and superiority. As far as it is concerned not being told by official channels of the CIS that there was a surrender is confirmation enough that the war is still on. As they have no means to leave the planet and attempts to communicate for assistance have failed, the droid will see any valid target, even civilian, as acceptable in this situation. The army is likely not to set out a straight up attack and will give the village an ultimatum of surrendering first. However, there should be concern what the army will do with any prisoners if it sees no reason to keep anyone alive.

I feel like your idea could work with the right rolls, or if the group is somehow able to convince the droid general that they are CIS hierarchy. 

Your idea of recruiting the droids or getting them to work for the colony after the conflict is resolved is delightful too. 

Edited by Shawnacy

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Is there a nice long, preferably not too stable, bridge that the droid army could be maneuvered into "crossing"?

Or a convenient long narrow canyon to traverse? 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, RickInVA said:

Is there a nice long, preferably not too stable, bridge that the droid army could be maneuvered into "crossing"?

Or a convenient long narrow canyon to traverse? 

 

Edited by Shawnacy

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Maybe the party has to shut the droids back down in some way. This would probably involve infiltrating the ship and somehow acquiring the codes to turn the droids back off. It would probably be more interesting than just trying to fight off wave after wave of B1s until they get overwhelmed.

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Great thoughts. I definitely don’t want the party just defending against waves. The army is basically just going to sit back and wait for a surrender, maybe peppering a building or two with cannon fire to make a point. But I would like the PCsto have to infiltrate the army stealthily in some way. Getting to the downed ship for de-activation or command codes is a good goal but will require transportation the PCs do not have (they only have a single speeder bike between all of them). This could be resolved by them stealing staps from the droids or a townsfolk pulling out an old speeder they have been working on.

great ideas so far. 

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Why not put the narrative control in the players hands? Run it like a skill challenge. Run an encounter that represents a week of prep. Then queue some montage music and each player goes around the room coming up with an idea to prepare for an assault and have them roll the necessary skill. 

Keep a tally of the total net results and use that to determine what they face at the very end. It's sure to be something far more manage. 

In addition, you can use the cinematic method of combat. When you finally run the combat encounter, focus your cinematic lens on just what the PCs are dealing with. The results of the previous skill challenge determines how the rest of the fight went and what condition the town and its people are in.

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Maybe something like The Matrix and a giant EMP device?  As in The Matrix, they had to get it operational before the hunters droids broke in and killed them.  Perhaps it is insurmountable odds? Say the droids cut communication (jam it).  Perhaps it is a time challenge issue for the group? i.e. hold off the army with negotiation and delaying tactics while they convert a huge generator in town into an outwardly-focused, massive EMP device (Skill Challenges). Sure, it'll wipe out their own devices, but will save the town. A last resort, maybe? Maybe half the town disagrees with the tactic?  If anything, then a political debate within the ranks as to the tactic or do something else?  Leadership skill, Negotiation, Deception, Charm, Coercion, ….all the social skills.  Then maybe Computers, Mechanics, Knowledge: Education.....skills to pull it off.  Usually when I can involve a LOT of varied skills, I know I have a winner. 

It almost never seems to be a good choice to have a handful of pc's take on a small army.  You (I) usually have had to 'fudge' rolls in the past or have the army act stupidly in order to avoid a TPK and ruining my own campaign.  Lesson learned! 

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11 hours ago, DurosSpacer said:

Maybe something like The Matrix and a giant EMP device?  As in The Matrix, they had to get it operational before the hunters droids broke in and killed them.  Perhaps it is insurmountable odds? Say the droids cut communication (jam it).  Perhaps it is a time challenge issue for the group? i.e. hold off the army with negotiation and delaying tactics while they convert a huge generator in town into an outwardly-focused, massive EMP device (Skill Challenges). Sure, it'll wipe out their own devices, but will save the town. A last resort, maybe? Maybe half the town disagrees with the tactic?  If anything, then a political debate within the ranks as to the tactic or do something else?  Leadership skill, Negotiation, Deception, Charm, Coercion, ….all the social skills.  Then maybe Computers, Mechanics, Knowledge: Education.....skills to pull it off.  Usually when I can involve a LOT of varied skills, I know I have a winner. 

It almost never seems to be a good choice to have a handful of pc's take on a small army.  You (I) usually have had to 'fudge' rolls in the past or have the army act stupidly in order to avoid a TPK and ruining my own campaign.  Lesson learned! 

An EMP isn't a bad idea. Might be an option available to them.

The PCs vs an Army is a plot I settled on primarily because it's NOT a plot you typically should settle on. I wanted the odds so out of the favor of the PCs that they would have to come up with something clever to avoid themselves and the townsfolk meeting a quick demise. Obviously running in and fighting it head on would be suicide. But, in the flavor of underdogs vs crushing odds I wanted to see what would come of it. 

Some great ideas so far. 

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5 hours ago, Shawnacy said:

An EMP isn't a bad idea. Might be an option available to them.

The issue with an EMP from an in-universe perspective is the simple question of "Why didn't the Republic do that?" They tried with the electro-proton bomb, but that shows you just how rare something like that is in Star Wars. If it were so simple that a small settlement in Wild Space could whip one up in a couple days and wipe out an army, that leaves two huge questions: 1. Why was the Republic so incompetent that they couldn't do it? and 2. If it's so easy, why did the Separatists use droids?

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1 hour ago, P-47 Thunderbolt said:

The issue with an EMP from an in-universe perspective is the simple question of "Why didn't the Republic do that?" They tried with the electro-proton bomb, but that shows you just how rare something like that is in Star Wars. If it were so simple that a small settlement in Wild Space could whip one up in a couple days and wipe out an army, that leaves two huge questions: 1. Why was the Republic so incompetent that they couldn't do it? and 2. If it's so easy, why did the Separatists use droids?

Also a good point.

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8 minutes ago, Shawnacy said:

Also a good point.

Maybe it isn't even pliable, but someone has the idea and the players need to dissuade the crowd that it would not work (Kn: Education, Leadership = crowds.).  In a panicked situation, not every idea is going to be a "good" one!!  ;)   I saw a remake movie based on The Fog where a group of men didn't want to stay in the grocery store any longer.  They said it was 'just fog' despite the others insistence that there were deadly monsters out there. Never saw them again.  So, maybe a panicked group of villagers want to explode a bomb or fuel tank?  Build some crazy EMP device one of them says will work. It's not always a choice of which idea is 'best', but rather, steer away from the bad (disastrous) ideas. The players have to defend against BAD ideas, too. ;)

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2 hours ago, P-47 Thunderbolt said:

The issue with an EMP from an in-universe perspective is the simple question of "Why didn't the Republic do that?" They tried with the electro-proton bomb, but that shows you just how rare something like that is in Star Wars. If it were so simple that a small settlement in Wild Space could whip one up in a couple days and wipe out an army, that leaves two huge questions: 1. Why was the Republic so incompetent that they couldn't do it? and 2. If it's so easy, why did the Separatists use droids?

The Republic did have the personal scale anti-droid grenades (I forgot the name).  Part of the Republic's problem is that they were so complacent from generations of peace that they did not know how to make war.  Until the clones came along, they did not have an army.  They had the jedi, who wouldn't rely on technological solutions.  And a few peace officers and support personnel.  I would assume no one thought of using a large scale EMP.  Plus, that would significantly damage Republic infrastructure, so they may have thought of it, but discarded it.  Kind of like nuking your own territory.  The US would think twice about using a massive EMP in a major city.   Depending on where you did it, it could brak large portions of the internet, and possibly destroy critical infrastructure.

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4 minutes ago, Edgookin said:

The Republic did have the personal scale anti-droid grenades (I forgot the name).  Part of the Republic's problem is that they were so complacent from generations of peace that they did not know how to make war.  Until the clones came along, they did not have an army.  They had the jedi, who wouldn't rely on technological solutions.  And a few peace officers and support personnel.  I would assume no one thought of using a large scale EMP.  Plus, that would significantly damage Republic infrastructure, so they may have thought of it, but discarded it.  Kind of like nuking your own territory.  The US would think twice about using a massive EMP in a major city.   Depending on where you did it, it could brak large portions of the internet, and possibly destroy critical infrastructure.

The droid poppers (Mk. II EMP Grenades according to Rise of the Separatists) were on a very small scale. If it was child's play to scale it up to destroy whole armies, they would have done it. Both sides of the conflict were trying to develop weapons that would destroy the enemy without harming friendlies (the Defoliator, the electro-proton bomb). The latter was developed rather early into the war, but never saw widespread use. Plus, it's a pretty simple thing to think of. Every military wants something that can harm the enemy without harming its own personnel. When you've got droids on one side and organics on the other, it becomes a fairly simple solution for both sides. Like I said, if it was so easy that a small colony out in Wild Space could do it, why didn't the Republic? That's aside from the question of whether the aforementioned colony is even capable of making one.

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Alternatively, only a fool would sit in a village waiting for death, when a prepared party could do any of numbed of things;

 

training the villagers to fight is effectively a trope of this kind of setting. The villagers have to rescue themselves.

setting up ambushes and skirmishing. Unless the droids set up right on the doorstep of the camp, likely they have made camp a couple miles away. What lies between them? Dense vegetation? Ravines they have to cross or natural valleys that form a choke point?


What surrounds the village? Would it be possible to erect a fortification?

 

what stops the villagers from simply moving? Have an answer to this question prepared as that’s what the party will enevitibly ask, or are the droids intent on exterminating all organic life, no matter how far they run?

 

is there any nearby settlements or old contacts that can be used to generate support?

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Allow the players to put traps along all the path that the droids are taking.  Hidden ion grenades,  pit traps,  ambush points,  and other things to slow down the army.  So that way it is whittled down by the time they get to the village where they could be defeated.  Like a previous person suggested to do it as skill challenges as they prepare. Each person picks a skill that fits  the narrative, assign a difficulty for each.  Each success reduces the number of droids at the end.

Some examples:

Survival - cause local creatures to stampede through the army.

Pilot planetary or mechanics - sending unmanned vechiles towards the. 

Charm - convince local hunters to snipe them as they March.

Or steal from epsidoe one and they are really old droids.  They can turn them all off at the base, but have to wait until the army has left it.  So they only have a limited amount of time to get to the controls and shut it down.

Hope these ideas help.

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Posted (edited)

I presented the players with the situation and offered some hints on some possible solutions based on some suggestions here. 

The army intends to occupy the village and take the citizens prisoner to be used as a bargaining chip to negotiate transportation off-world to join, what they believe, is the rest of the Separatist army. The problem here is that the Empire is likely not going to negotiate for mere civilians on a wild-space world, and the droids are likely not going to keep the prisoners alive if they are not useful. Assuming the Empire doesn't just bomb the **** out of the planet. 

The last non-droid crew member who has survived all these years was sent to the town to negotiate the surrender but is doing so against her will. She was able to provide the PCs with an override code that could be used on the tactical droid commander. Once the code is implanted the droid will take commands from the user, and who therefore will have control over the army. The problem is that the tactical droid needs to be disabled long enough to interface with the droid to implement the command code. Currently only the Separatist and one NPC have that cybernetic, and the droid is at the center of the army within a mobile command center. 

The NPCs are planning to sneak out of the town while the NPC confirms the surrender. They will later attempt to infiltrate the army by stealth and make their way to the command center. The group will have a few suppressor mods and an ion weapon or two to use between them. I'm also stating that due to there not being a way to recharge the droid's systems on the planet that the General is shutting down various teams of droids at a time in a rotation to conserve energy. 

I'm hoping for some intense and thrilling sneaking with a final epic confrontation with the droid general and his guards.

Edited by Shawnacy

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Do Seperatist Droid armies have history of going out of their way to slaughter any biologicals they don't think are "useful?" You seem a bit stuck on that point and I wasn't aware of that aspect of CIS droid armies.

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Droids that aren't memory wiped now and then develop quirks and personalities. Tactical droids have a tendency for narcissism at the best of times. Though you are right that a separatist army during the clone wars wouldn't do that without explicit order I think

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