Experience with Group Combat? [Return of the Raiders]

Hello All!

[My players, in case there are inadvertant spoilers, keep out]

Well, I'm starting the "Return of the Raiders" adventure from ToME. Began it last night, and expect to finish it next sunday.
Due to complaints about the length of combat from a player, I thought I'd give group combat a go.

So far, so interesting. We only played out the initial scouting of 12 seasoned warriors in a boat, and the "man out of time (thanks to the Boar King)' Viking Companion ran through a group of them like a hot knife through butter thanks to some hastily made "carved assassin's" who made the initial raider force turn their group bonus to Offense, allowing the Viking Companion & Co. to leap from their ambush spot and go full offense themselves against the distracted raiders.

I'm looking to peruse Lords of Men and see about incorporating some rules for Morale and so on, or anything else of use to keep it simple but also give it a frisson of tactics/verisimilitude. Only having played a few rounds, I'm trying to figure out where the "choices" are in the system that you need to pay attention to - where the "game" lives.

That said, anyone fiddled with the rules at all? I know the issue is divisive, but has anyone noted any pitfalls, cautions, added house rules, etc?

At least for this "Seven Samurai" style adventure, it's an interesting change of pace.

Oh, and thanks again to Timothy Ferguson for another enjoyable evening for my group! I replaced the head Raider with the spitting image of Yngvar, the Viking companion who was formerly a terror centuries ago in the area of the adventure, so now Yngvar must fight his own legend made flesh. Fun!

Darren Miguez

It basically transforms a bunch of people into a big amorphous combatant with the best characteristics among them all.

  • 1 seasoned veteran (vanguard, leadership 3, WS 6) + 3 recruits (WS 3) becomes one big seasoned veteran with a +9 bonus.
  • 4 seasoned veterans (all of them WS 6) ALSO become a single seasoned veteran with a +9 bonus.

So both combatants (both groups) would face each other in equal terms. If both are trained or both are untrained, that is.

See the problem-ish? In the previous case, it goes from a situation where the veteran + 3 noobs would be totally pawned to a 100% matched combat situation where the recruits have a fair chance of beating down veteran crusaders.

The above is not a theoretical situation. Is what happened when we tried the rules for combat groups. We were the recruits (3 young grogs and a companion), and pawned a group of 4 brigants (unemployed mercenaries) that wanted to steal from us. Jordi (the SG at that moment) cannot hear of the group rules without going on a berserk rant about how substandard (to say it lightly) he finds they are.

However, if all the groups are homogeneous this is not a problem. In the Raiders scenario it is rather easy to have homogeneous groups: the "vikings" already are homogeneous.

We do not use the group rules ourselves. Since it is "background material" we tend to make combats where there are no PCs a SG fiat thing.

We have no experience at all with the LoM combat rules.


When you speak of bonus, are you talking the bonus for a Leader in a trained group?

Ok... so assuming you're talking Leadership bonus, the 4 seasoned veterans are not fighting with a leader (from what it looks like), just a vanguard. so, they're being outclassed by virtue of the leadership of the Veteran Leader. I'm not totally opposed to that in a fantasy rpg.

Hm, I'm willing to give up a bit of grit and realism to deal with abstraction. I'm not sure if I'll like group combat or not - there balance between speed and abstraction will need to be observed.

The problem I see is that the 4 seasoned veterans had a bad leader. Same group with a Leadership 6 becomes a single seasoned veteran with a +18 bonus. That would, I think, make a significant difference.

I'm not sure I see where the 4 seasoned veterans in the second group get their +9 bonus from if they don't have a leader. Is the leader assumed - Leadership 3?

I think on this case the difference becomes morale, possibly? Especially if the Lord of Men rules are looked at for Advanced Groups.

Still, for the most part, the vanguard becomes the important factor in the conflict, it seems.

Not quite.

He means that because the Leadership bonus is limited to 3*Leadership Score, the veterans (who seem to all have Leadership 3) effectively offer the same combat bonus as the recruits, and because the vanguard is the same in both cases, the groups are effectively the same.

For me, this just means that the veterans need to be led by a better leader to take full-advantage of their superior skills. The leadership skills of the leader are appropriate for leading a group of recruits, but while the veterans have better potential it is not realised because their leader is not good enough. If the leader of the veterans had a Leadership Score of 5, then their bonus is +15.

The veterans do have a soft advantage in that if the leader is somehow killed (like by a magus), then the group is still OK --- especially if they can reform. Whereas the recruits are toast if their leader gets cut down.

Also the veterans have the option of fighting as two separate squads --- which might be a better option for them. For example, a three man squad of veterans, acts as defender for the other veteran. Alternatively, a three man squad could pin down the recruits, while the other veteran does something else --- which could be handy depending on the context.

Also, in the original example the leadership of the leader of the two groups needs to be 4 (there are four characters in each group, the leader is a member of the group). So, in fact the veterans will have a bonus of +12 (limited by leadership still), and the recruits still only have a bonus of +9 (limited by the recruit's Weapon Scores), anyway.

Try using average skill for group+Vanguard stats/2(or without dividing...).

Correct. The veterans also had leadership 3. I cannot for the love of God see why a group of regular soldiers would have a leadership superior to +3 themselves. They are combatants, not leaders. They were veterans that had been fighting together as part of a larger unit for several years (WS 6) but were not the leaders themselves.They decided to play games and steal from the bunch of recruits that passed through the village where they were staying. A leadership of 3 was considered perfectly adequate for such characters.

It was not me leading that scene, but a fellow member of my troupe. I found his math perfectly kosher. In my case I was a scared-to-hell recruit that got a confidence point for beating a seasoned veteran. That, after peeing in his own pants and wondering who on hell convinced him to enroll with the covenant. It was quite a pitiful scene. And then the roaring boasting could be heard from 2 blocks away!


That's fine and all very sensible. So, the issue just seems to be that in your example, the regular soldiers were not led any better than the recruits were, and therefore were not any more effective than the recruits were. Which seems to be an acceptable outcome.

The regular soliders had the potential to perform better (if they had had a better leader). On the other hand, the recruits were at the limit of what they could achieve.