I must have missed this before. According to RAW, a combat group's participants must have ALL Combat Totals within 5pts of each other. For some reason, I had originally thought it was Ability scores only but it's the entire Total.
Both Attack and Defense Totals take a number of different values to accumulate a score. For Attack, this is DEX, Ability, and Weapon Attack Modifier. To keep these within 5points of each other, everyone must almost uniform in equipment, characteristics and skills. A difference of one or two points in all of these would make it impossible for them to fight as a Group. It also would defeat the purpose of Groups (to speed up combat and show trained groups working together.)
When you add in the point of a Vanguard, it makes it more odd.
-I'm ignoring the idea that one could consider Initiative, Damage, and Soak as Combat Totals. Assuming that only Attack and Defense
Interesting -thanks for the tip. I had misread that as ability with their weapon as well, not attack/defense totals. I haven't yet used the group combat rules in play, but will be doing so this weekend. I have concerns about the rules, but will post in a seperate thread so as not to hijack yours.
Personally, I'd ignore the total and favor the ability+weapon modifier only, exclude the characteristics from the equation. That means people of around the same ability level can generally be effective as a group with a +/- 1 of the group. It's still going to be messy when specialties in SW get added in, and could effectively move people beyond the range of 5.
If they are all of more or less the same ability, they can easily factor natural talent (characteristics) into the equation.
I guess I'm not understanding the problem. As I understand it, a combat group is a group of warriors, comparability skilled and armed, fighting as a unit. It's five mounted knights or five serfs with pitchforks... not one mounted knight and four serfs with pitchforks.
One knight has a dex of +3 another of -3, combat ability is the same, weapons are the same. Technically, since their combat totals are greater than 5 difference, they can't form a group, as the difference is 6.
One has a Dex of +5
The other a Dex of 0.
They use different weapons, the player with Dex 5 uses a long sword for a total of +9.
The one with Dex 0 uses a short sword with for a total of +3.
Dex 0 isn't a clutz, in fact, he's average. Part of group combat is knowing the capabilities of one's compatriots and having them use the weapon that they are best able to use. If there can't be coordinated action, because of different characteristics, and different choices of weapons, that is a bit of a problem...
Yeah, but he's standing next to a paragon. It's like putting me next to a young Arnold Schwarzenegger on weightlifting team.
Except that a combat group isn't meant to be reflective of your ability to fight alongside your compatriots. At it's heart, it's an abstraction so you don't have roll 20+ dice each round for the five grogs fighting the five skeletons... but can handle it with 4 dice instead, and so let you focus a bit more on that companion who is a paragon knight with Dex +5 and Pussiant Single Weapon fighting the Spectre King and on the magus getting ready to cast Demon's Eternal Oblivion on Mardux, Demon Lord of the Walking Dead.
The extreme characters you keep mentioning shouldn't be part of a combat group, precisely because they stand out. Their very uniqueness means that they should be dealt with seperately.
The shear number of potential modifiers also means that the odd man out could be tweaked a bit to fit in. Better quality equipment, a magic item, a specialty or minor spell might be all Brutis the new grog needs to qualify for the group.
As I see it, the group rules are basically there to make combat swifter by rolling once for the vanguard, instead of multiple times (curiously, not move than 6, though...) for all the group's members. But the vanguard can only "stand in" for the others if they are of comparable ability; otherwise, it just doesn't make sense.
"Clutz" is a relative term. Relative to Dex+5, Dex 0 is a clutz.
The group is meant to be a group of "comparable" characters. A 5 pt range does actually allow for a reasonable spread of abilities and equipment --- just not too much. If you have an odd man out, then he just can't be a part of the group. He's either too useless, or too good, or has the wrong kind of weapon.
Having said that, there does seem to be some conceptual difficult with a character who is "too good" by way of Ability or statistics to be part of the group. It is easy to see that a character who is better than the others because of equipment (say he has a lance and is on horseback, while the others have daggers), should not be a part of the group. However, it is hard to see why a character who has Dex +5, say, cannot join a group of otherwise identical characters who have Dex 0. The reverse seems fine; a single Dex 0 character cannot join a group of other Dex +5 characters, because he is, relatively, a clutz. I don't really see an elegant answer to that, but it seems to be a rare enough problem that it doesn't really need a solution, just avoid situations like that.
Note that if you want, you can do things like make the group a "defender" group, with the odd-man out being the character defended.
I agree with the posters who say that one of the purposes of the group rules is as a game mechanic device to lump a bunch of similar characters together to minimise dice handling. However, it is also, in-character, meant to represent a group of characters fighting together. So, it would be nice if it made sense in-character. Which, generally, it does.
I think the 5pt rule makes a lot of sense, even when it contains the highly skilled paragons. The "fix" I would apply is to optionally limit the paragon's effective level down to the group's stats. The paragon is fighting with the team, not amongst them. That means that the paragon must use tactics that the group comprehends, and keep to what they are capable of.
This isn't so much of a problem with untrained groups. The only effect is to streamline larger combats by assuming that everyone in the group had the same combat total+die roll as the vanguard, right? If the members of the group are significantly different, as in your examples, it does make sense to me not to treat them as part of a group. Different dex, different weapon, it doesn't make sense to me that they would consistently inflict the same wounds.
The problem only comes up when were talking about trained groups. If they can't be part of a group, they can't get the bonuses.
A knight, his two squires, and two common soldiers under his command have been fighting as a unit for years on crusade. But because they are not within +5, they can't coordinate their attacks to get the bonus?
Or a shield-wall of mercenaries in front of a line of peasants with pikes? Maybe their totals are identical, but they've only spent a month training together. Not a group, no bonus.
But 6 guys with a +3 weapon ability and combat totals +4 apart, with a leadership 6 among them, can spend a single season training together, and then they get a +18 to the die roll? They would tend to maul the groups that may otherwise be their equal, but can't get the trained bonus.
Possible solution: Separate the concepts of "group" and "trained."
Group status is limited to people who are within +5 of the vanguard. If you don't meet that threshold, you can't be part of the group and must roll dice seperately, but your die roll can still benifit from trained status.
Trained status is determined by "spending at least one season improving combat skills at the same time and in the same place," under the same leader, and then being directed by that leader in a battle. A leader can provide a bonus to a number of fighters equal to the leader's leadership score. Those he is leading get a bonus equal to the sum of the combat abilities of the other members of the group, maxed at 3x leadership score.
I could see a variant of the "splitting groups" combat maneuver being used to seperate some individuals or groups from their leader so he can no longer command them and they lose the bonuses.
Groups and individuals could lose and regain this bonus as they go through the morale changes described in LoM
Well, would knight settle for anything short of best?
Would same knight be willing to shovel up the cash to get the same stuff for his common footmen?
Essentially gear (and most likely skill) would form a pyramid. Knight on top with best training, best gear. Then squires with good gear. And then those footmen. Difference between knight on top and footman on bottom could quite easily be over 5