Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Quick and Dirty Warfare Rules for Shadow of the Demon Lord

Quick and Dirty Warfare Rules for Shadow of the Demon Lord

One of the (many) games I have been reading of late is the newly released Shadow of the Demon Lord by Robert J. Schwalb. The 'elevator pitch' would largely be this is the game you would get if you threw 13th Age, Warhammer into a blender and added a tiny touch of steampunk.

It also seems to capture the tone of one of my personal favorite book series, The Black Company quite nicely, and with that in mind I spent a furious half hour hacking together a quick-and-dirty mass combat system for it.

Rolls in the RPG are a d20 potentially modified by boons or banes, d6s that are rolled and you take the highest of the lot to  add to (for boons) or subtract from (for banes) the d20 roll.

At any rate here is my first stab at 'rules':

Step 1: Assess the Order of Battle

Both sides first assess the relative strength of their forces versus their enemy. For each of the following that is 'true', add a boon. (These are cumulative, so if you have an overwhelming numerical advantage, you get a boon for a significant numerical advantage as well.)

Size of the armies:
- Significant numerical advantage (Say 2x the enemy)
- Overwhelming numerical advantage (~4x or more)

Quality of the armies:
- Significant training and/or morale advantage (professional men-at-arms vs peasant levies)
- Overwhelming training and/or morale advantage (crusading fanatical men at arms vs peasant levies)

 Mobility of the armies:
- Significant mobility advantage* (Not applicable in all fight, cavalry in a siege for instance.)
- Overwhelming mobility advantage* ( Example could be all heavy cavalry vs an embarked artillery unit on a grassy plain... Or flying combatants against an enemy without them)

 Goal of the armies:
- Static Defense 
- Static Defense of a Fortification (fort/small castle)

Health of the armies:
-Significant Health advantage. (Not starving due to siege)
-Overwhelming Health advantage. (Didn't drink from the well containing plague victims.)

Arms and Armor:
-Significant Arms and Armor advantage. (Forged weapons and armor vs farm tools.)
-Overwhelming Arms and Armor advantage (You have firearms and your enemy does not... Unless it is raining or the like, at which time the opponent would get a overwhelming advantage)

Fell Sorcery:
- Significant Magical advantage. (need example)
- Overwhelming Magical Advantage.  (also need example)

Once the above is calculated for both sides, the side with the most boons subtracts a number of boons equal to the opponent's boons.

Hr'dog the Orc is leading 500 fellow Orcs on a crusade of vengeance against a halfling town led by Jollyweed. Jollyweed has managed to rally almost two thousand 'combat worthy' halflings from the town as well as outlying farms.

Hr'Dog's forces are bloodthirsty experienced warriors looking for vengeance, and well armed for war, so he has the following advantages:

- Significant training and/or morale advantage (professional men-at-arms vs peasant levies)
- Overwhelming training and/or morale advantage (crusading fanatical men at arms vs peasant levies)
-Significant Arms and Armor advantage. (Forged weapons and armor vs farm tools.)

Hr'Dog has three boons.

Jollyweed's forces are largely peasants and local riff-raff defending their homes, but she has quite a few of them:

- Static Defense (Just one level, halflings are notoriously poor defensive planners.)
- Overwhelming numerical advantage (~4x or more)

Jollyweed has two boons.

Subtracting Jollyweed's total from Hr'Dog, Hr'Dog is left with one boon.

Step 2: Player Antics.

Each player may either:

1. Be commanding the army (or assisting) in which case they do nothing here.

2. Fight as a member of your unit, do your duty and that is all, in which case you do nothing for now.

3. Reckless heroics. Make an attack/use magic/perhaps an intelligence challenge roll to deceive the enemy... make a good story for it and roll: 10+ you add a boon to your side, 20+ you add 2. 

Heroics come with a cost as you will take a bane during the 'War is Fickle' phase... 2 if you rolled below 10 and 2 for yourself and 1 bane for your side if you managed to get 1 or below. 

If you use magic... Double the boons and the banes as while your power is awesome, it also attracts swarms of arrows when noticed.

4. Cowards may die a thousand deaths, but that is because they live long enough. 

As with Reckless heroics, attack/magic or any other appropriate challenge roll to justify your story an roll: 10+ you add a boon to your 'war is fickle' roll, 20+ you add 2 and add one bane to your side with your ill-timed cowardice.

Same doubling rule for magic applies here.

Florik the Foul is warrior and collector of... oddities who happens to find himself shoehorned into the defense of Jollyweed's town. Not having any 'skin in the game' he chooses to preserve his own hide by waylaying one of his fellows with his sword and making a run for it.
He scores a 20 on the attack, giving him 2 boons for the 'War is Fickle' phase, but breaking unit morale at a critical juncture in the fight as he runs, incurring Jollyweed one bane.

Step 3: Battle outcome (this may be overall, or just the day's combat)

Both sides would adjust their boons/banes appropriately, leaving Hr'Dog with one boon, and Jollyweed with one bane.

Hr'Dog has a military profession, and adds another boon to this roll giving him two boons. 

He rolls a 17 (12 + (5 or 2))

Jollyweed is a farmer... And she adds nothing.

She rolls 1d20 + 1 bane for a total of 6 (12 - 6).

The dice can give us some interesting details... That bane was profoundly hurtful to Jollyweed, so Florik played a pivotal role in transforming a military defeat into a potential massacre.

Army status:
20+ Unstoppable!, add an additional boon to the next engagement if there is one, and PCs add a boon to the 'War is Fickle' phase.

15+ Unscathed. Largely untouched anyone on this side of the fight gains an additional boon in the 'War if Fickle' phase.

10+ Combat ready. You may have taken some casualties, but not enough to impact your forces at this level.

5-9 Shaken. You add an additional bane to the next round of combat.

1-4 Routed. Every Elf for his-self!

0 or below. Massacre.

The loser of this round also shifts own category DOWN, so Jollyweed's 6 puts his forces at 'shaken', the loss forces them into a route while Hr'dog's forces are in good order to run down the survivors at their leisure.

Step 4: War is Fickle

PCs are the center of the action, of whom songs are song and stories written... Usually after they die horribly.

Roll a will challenge if you just fought in your unit, as fighting a war is not the same as single combat, it is about adherence to training in adversity.

Roll whichever type of roll your performed in Step 2 otherwise, adding the boons and the banes as noted.

20+ Stuff of legend! Whatever the long-term fate of your side, your name and deeds are known... and often overblown far and wide.

15+ Veteran. You survived, and your fellows know your deeds. You won't have a book written about you, but your soldiers will always save you a seat at the pub... or have a knife waiting depending on what said deeds were...

10+ You survived, that is its own reward.

9 Trauma. Make a challenge roll to stave off insanity gained experiencing the horror and atrocity of war.

7-8 Scars. 1d6 of damage, minus armor , but a minimum of 1.

5-6 Even more scars. 2d6 of damage, minus armor , but a minimum of 1.

2-4 Bloody Wounds. 3d6 of damage, minus armor, but a minimum of 1 and make a challenge roll to stave off 
one point of insanity.

1. Dying. 

0. Dead.

As above, modify your result one step DOWN if you are on the losing side.

If you are modified down from dead, you are really really dead.

Florik chose to save his own behind so he will roll two boons, yielding a 14 (9 + (5 or 3))

This lands firmly in 'you survived' , but since he was on the losing side, he has trauma, manages to blow his roll and gets a point of insanity...
His act of cowardice will haunt him.