Powers & Perils Mass Combat - Comments

Henrik Lawaetz henrik.lawaetz at MEDTRONIC.COM
Tue Apr 28 11:01:05 CEST 1998

Hi Burton,

You made several requests in your reply to my comments.

#1. As for additions to the SNAFU table, I don't have too much at present.
My table primarily focused on strength reductions and primarily penalized
attackers (bad coordination, units refusing to get involved in charges,
etc). Some "events" you might consider are:

(Historical Inspiration: Athenians at Syracuse.)
<Bad Omens Scare Commander>
(Does not apply to PC Commanders). If attacker must call off attack,
temporarily; if Defender in field battle, must retreat if possible;
Otherwise fight at *2 morale.

<Outside Meditation>
(Like all other events, ignore if the GM feels this is impossible in the
situation). Emissaries from a neutral (or just very powerful) entity
arrives, wishing to negotiate a truce or even peace. If one side refuses to
cooperate entirely, this may result in ill feelings from that side later.

General Comment on the SNAFU/Catastrophe table:
If/when you go to a percentage based table, I believe the likelihood of
SNAFU should be less than what your current table holds. Really severe
stuff (commander death, major defection, etc) should occur seldom, perhaps
5% of the time at worst.

#2 Effects/Glory Table

I'd never ever allow a player to specify a Risk modifier. The players would
have to specify what they do, then the GM then decides their individual
risk factors based on that. Furthermore, I only allow player characters
(PCs) and VERY important NPCs to use this table (e.g. if your Chaos Wizard
PC controlled a part of Nilgeranthrib's Legions of Death and were
campaigning against Marentia, King Maros Karestian might well get a roll

Effects Roll: 2D10 + CEL/2 + <Skill/2> * Risk
(Skill: whatever function the GM determines the PC has in the battle).

Effect Table:
Roll    Result
28+: Epic Battle-Winning Action; Reputation: +2/+2 extra rest of campaign;
Battle Modifier: +2; Leadership Modifier: +4.
26+: Glorious Performance; Reputation: +1 /+2 extra rest of campaign;
Battle Modifier: +1; ; Leadership Modifier: +3.
24+: Star Performance; Reputation: +1 /+1 extra rest of campaign; Battle
Modifier: +1; Leadership Modifier: +3.
22+: Great Performance; Reputation: +2 rest  rest of campaign (only);
Battle Modifier: +1; Leadership Modifier: +2.
20+: Effective Performance; Reputation +1 rest of campaign (only);
Leadership Modifier: +1.
16+: Good Performance. (Noticed).
12+: Decent Performance.
8+: Minimal Performance.
6+: Bad Performance: Reputation: *1 rest of campaign (only); Leadership
Modifier: -1.
4+: Poor Performance: Reputation: -1/-1 extra rest of campaign; Leadership
Modifier: -2.
3 -: Coward of the County (Player must whistle Kenny Rogers song rest of
playing sessions whenever called upon to do so by GM). Reputation: -2/-2
extra rest of campaign; Battle Modifier: -1; Leadership Modifier: -3.

Effect Table Notes:
Reputation (in my game): This affects Morale of the PC units (i.e.
commanded by PC throughout the campaign; not just "this guy has Rep +3, let
him command the center..." - I.e. your own personally raised and funded
regiment get's this modifier). Reputation also affects promotion chances,
salary as mercenary, etc. The word <campaign> here is the Military term,
not a description of a series of role playing sessions. Once a campaign is
over (GM discretion), all temp stuff is lost.
Battle Modifier: The Leader on your side adds this to his Strategy Roll for
the battle.
Leadership Modifier: If you are the Overall Commander on your side, add
this to your Task Roll for the battle (ignore the Battle Modifier in this

An Example (quickly done, so bear with me):

The Dark Prince (a PC, CEL 8, Strategy EL3, Military Officer EL4) commands
a force, with his trusted friend Buch Captal (another PC, CEL 12, Tactics
EL7) as second in command. His scribe, Froissart, (a third PC, CEL 3,
Infantryman EL1), accompanies the force. The force has about 2000 infantry
and 500 cavalry.
A large enemy army has caught up with his forces and he is now forced to do
battle in the open vs. the enemy. The enemy outnumbers the Dark Prince 5-1.
Let's resolve some of the battle.

The terrain is described to the Dark Prince as: a Stream guards the left
flank, a small Woods the right. With the "recklessness of desperation", the
Dark Prince detaches a small a force (200 cavalry) * these must await the
enemy attack, then ride around the Woods and attack the enemy from the
rear. The GM decides that the enemy feels confident and does not wish to
give the dark Prince any more chances to slip away and will attack at once.
Since the width of the field is limited, the enemy decides to attack in 3
waves. But let's skip this * this example is just about Player effects, the
important thing here is that the GM decides enemy plan does not guard
effectively against the Dark Prince's gamble.

The Dark Prince himself decides to fight in the front line beside his men.
The GM decides that being in the front line where the enemy attack is
expected will be Risk *2, given that many enemy soldiers will be anxious to
slay the enemy commander. The main idea is to serve as an example for the
men so that the line will hold, so the GM decides i.e. Military Officer
skill will apply.

Given the poor odds they are facing, Froissart decides to join the battle
and fight in the front line alongside his Prince and friend. Froissart will
be somewhat shielded by his Prince, so the GM decides the Risk is *1. Since
he is fighting on foot, Infantryman skill will apply.

Finally, Buch is entrusted with the key role of riding around the Woods and
surprising the enemy. The GM decides that this is worth Risk *5. Again, the
crucial stuff is getting the force to the right position at the right time,
thus Tactics skill applies.

Let's skip Survival rolls, and proceed straight to Glory/Effects rolls:

The Dark Prince rolls 2D10 for 10. Adds 4 (CEL/2), and 2 (Military Officer
EL/2) and 2 for Risk. The total of 18 The Dark Prince does well ("Good
Performance"), but not enough to affect the battle as a whole.

Froissart rolls 2D10 for 8. Adds 1.5 (CEL/2), and 0.5 (Infantryman EL/2)
and 1 for Risk. The total of 11 adds up to a minimal performance, as might
be expected.

Buch, finally, Rolls 2D10 for 15. Adds 6 (CEL/2), and 3.5 (Tactics EL/2)
and 5 for Risk. The result is 29.5, a (potentially) Battle-Winning

The Black Prince adds 2 to his die roll for this, PLUS whatever else the GM
decides clearly outwitting the enemy (the outflanking attack) is worth,
perhaps another +2.

Yours, Henrik
Date:         Fri, 1 May 1998 22:46:14 -0400
Reply-To:     linna at netcom.com
Sender:       Powers and Perils <POWERS-AND-PERILS at DUTCGEO.CT.TUDELFT.NL>
From:         Burton & Linda Choinski <linna at NETCOM.COM>
Subject:      Mass Combat System, Other Notes
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Okay, as Promised, more mass combat notes.  Also, some other notes.

1) I was working on the notes for Marentia using my excel tool and I believe I
made a mistake in one portion.  Cell B14 should probably be:


This uses the average city size vs total population over minimum city
size vs total population.  I came to this realization while doing Marentia
since it has several high-population cities.

2) As stated, the mass combat rules could use some simplification.  I
attempted to take the GURPS notes and send it over directly, and this may work
(more or less) but is still somewhat clumsy and requires a lot of rolls.  I
downloaded the actual text from Brett's site and will alter it into a complete
replacement for a future submission (probably tomorrow).  I will be working on
it tonight and tomorrow and try and
send it off ASAP.  The good news is I finaly found a new job, so my time may
be better spent now :)

3) One of the players in Group #2, my brother, will be heading off to norway
sometime this month.  As such, Group #2 will probably fade out or diminish in
play.  As such, the Marentian stuff is not forthcoming.
   -- Burton

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