Troop Types

Posts and messages between a couple of my combat oriented characters, discussing what they could do with troops, has made me start thinking about troop types again.  While my basic troop types work  for my kingdom system, they don’t leave the PCs with a lot of ‘flavouring’  when it comes to RP posts or customizing their own troops.  So now I want to find a middle way, something that will works with the mass combat system I use – and something that allows PCs to customize and tweak things in ways that meet their RP needs.

Mind you, any rules that allow reskinning of troops will be an ‘Optional Extra’. It is important that the basic system in’t any more complicated that at present, so that less combat oriented players (or characters) aren’t disenfranchised.

My mass combat rules are based on mythological Celtic warfare models – the armies clash in the background while the heroes fight it out between themselves.  If the heroes win their particular fights, then their army gets a big psychological boost and the enemy is liable to rout.

There are reasons for this:-

  • I can use Defence Points to define the size and ability of an army and build the background combat around a D20 roll using army size as a modifier.
  • I don’t have to try to run a Minis-type wargame in an online forum.  A decent RL wargame can take hours to play out, online it would take forever.
  • The standard pathfinder Mass Combat rules are almost as complicated as a mini-figs game – and needs quite a lot of work to manage each round.  It becomes a focus to the game, rather than a background element.
  • A wargame style battle is only relevant to the one or two military character who have an army to command. Every PC can be involved in the ‘heroes’ part of the battle.
  • Not really an advantage,   but just about every ‘story’ medium uses the same model.   Most good war films concentrate of a selected group of characters, while all hell breaks loose around them. The same is true for most books set during a war.

The reason this matters is that Defence Points are one of the key values that help define a settlement, or personal estate, in my Kingdom building rules.  That means I have to understand the effects of a whole range of different troop types have within that system – and (because I like to make things a challenge for my PCs) I want to work out how I can fit that into the development side of those rules.

The system I have used so far is loosely based on the CR value of the troops involved, and uses the ‘Unit of light Foot’ as a measurement.  It makes a unit of Veteran Infantry or Light Cavalry equal to two units of Light Foot and one unit of Heavy Cavalry equals three units of light foot.  It is fairly rough and ready and doesn’t deal with any other troop types.  But how to refine it?

My basic Light Infantry NPC is Cr2, which means a unit of 10 of them, according to the encounter tables, counts as CR8 – however that feels a bit high to me.  I don’t think they would prove much of a challenge to a party of four PCs at L8  –  L5 or L6 maybe.  I can see I am going to get into ‘best judgement territory’ already …    …   and this is getting difficult!  I have played with a number of different concepts and formulae –  and I can’t find one that makes sense across a range and works consistently.  If I tweak a formula to make it fit in one place –  it makes it silly somewhere else!  There isn’t even a consistent ‘Best Judgement’.   

So a change of tack, and I found  that, at low levels, the formula [(20/CR) Rounded up] produces the same CR as ten CR2 light infantry.  And ten CR2 Light Infantry makes up one defence point.  That means that I can allow PCs to recruit any sort of troops, within the rules, in 1 Defence Point Units.

So now, one Defence Point can buy

  • A unit of Ten Light Infantry (CR2)
  • A unit of Seven Veterans  (CR3)
  • A unit of Five Light cavalry (CR4)
  • A unit of Four Heavy Cavalry (CR5)

And the unit numbers are the same for any other troop at the same CR.


House rules to support the extra flexibility.

  • Troops must be intelligent humanoids found within the civilised area, which pretty much means core races.  They will be warriors and cannot exceed L4.
  • Mounts must be Int 2, available in the area(*) and trainable.  Lower Int animals can’t learn enough tricks and higher Int mounts are too independent to serve a cavalry unit.    That doesn’t stop PCs coming to an arrangement with higher Int creatures to act as a personal mount.
  • Creatures trained for Combat Riding add +1 to their CR value (for  purposes of working out Defence Point values for troops) 

(*) You can’t just go out and order half-a-dozen trained hippogriff (for example) through a mail order catalogue, so you need to establish a breeding and training programme for them.  But before you can do that you have to gather some Hippogriff to start your programme.  Etc, etc.


The next job is for me to go away and rewrite all of my standard troops and unit types to match the new rules.  After that I will be able to tweak the buildings in Kingdom rules so that PCs can skin them for different troop types and RP scenarios.

Posted in Role Playing Aids, World Building.

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