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How to handle a siege without characters as leaders

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  • How to handle a siege without characters as leaders

    A long-running fantasy campaign is soon to come to a close, and it will end with a big siege upon the city of the players with lots of events. I want the actions, successes and failures of the players during the campaign to factor into the siege as modifiers. Normally I would consider the Mass Combat rules for this, but those are based on the players rolling Battle against the enemy commander, but none of the players have this skill. Even if they did, there are NPCs in the city who are far better commanders. So Mass Combat doesn't seem like a good fit. How would you handle this mechanically in a way that makes the siege exciting and have the contributions of the players be important for the outcome?

    As of now, I'm thinking of resolving the siege with a single dice roll (or a dramatic task) at the very end that is penalized due to all the disadvantages of the defenders, and then the players through actions, tactics and missions may try to eliminate those penalties before the rolls are made. This I think would be suitably cinematic and focus more on the actions of the characters, which is where the focus always should be.

    Another idea I suppose would be to use the rules for Savage Showdown and use small tokens to represent the different units. This will allow a lot more tactics from the players but I am inexperienced with wargaming and it seems like an extremely fiddling and slow method.

    If you have other suggestions, I would be extremely thankful!
    Last edited by Aristarkos; 09-11-2019, 08:41 AM.

  • #2
    Maybe use Quick Encounters. Set up the battlefield as a series of multi-stage Quick Encounters, giving the players a host of soldier Extras to use.

    One Encounter might be on the eastern walls as the enemy tries setting up ladders or seige towers. Another stage might involve using archers and trebuchets to break the enemy ranks. Holding the front gate against a battering ram is another stage.

    At each stage ask the players what they or the extras are doing. You may want to sketch out an overhead view of the fort, dividing it into sections, where each section will represent a stage. A hero can only be in one section at a time, meaning they might not be able to get personally involved in a stage; the player would need to rely solely on the Extras stationed in that area. This means heros should place themselves where their skills will serve best.


    • #3
      Do you want to consider the possibilty of players succeeding at everything they do in character, but lose the battle nonetheless with a few bad die rolls? Or do you want the siege to succeed based on player's actions alone?

      I would go for the latter in my own game and use video games as inspiration. Aside from startegy games, most video games will determine the success of a siege on the action of the players. For example, the wall is breached and the players are sent to stop the invaders. If they succeed, the rest of the battle is treated as a win. I would set a number of encounters where the players need to do something, and if they succeed and survive, the manage to swing the battle in their favor.

      For example, the characters might first have to raly the irregulars that want to abandon the castle, then fend off saboteurs who wanted to plant explosives on the wall. Afterwards, they have to sneak across enemy lines to destroy siege engines and finally kill the enemy commander on the top of his command tower transported by his magically-enhanced Oliphant.

      Whatever the rest of the army is doing is just background fluff.


      • #4
        Have you ever looked into Zadmar's "Quick Skirmish" rules? They are HERE.
        Savage Summaries-RAW, with added info from Clint:Combat Actions,Cover,Healing,Using Powers,Grappling,Chases (all SWD)
        Also:Persuasion (SWADE),Better Bosses (SWADE),Better Combat Rating (system independent)
        And:historical tech levels,generic SW sci-fi tech levels (both system indepdent)


        • #5
          It depends on how focused you want the action to be. If you want a top over view of the mass battle then let the Player run a few of the NPC commanders and make dice rolls. If you'd rather just focus on the PCs actions I'd set up a few encounters that are objectives, such as dentris suggested. Play out each encounter and track wether the group succeeds or fails. Perhaps while repelling a group breaching the gate they strategically retreat (treated as a loss). However in the next scene we have them engaging a small group with an enemy commander whom they capture (a win). Then use the outcome of these smaller encounters to narrate the over all battle. At the end you can wrap it up with a nice bow.

          As the game is coming to a close and this is the epic part, I'd mainly focus on the PCs narrating the stuff so the climax is not left to a few dice rolls. The battle should be just the window dressing around the characters actions within that.


          • #6
            I’m running a Mass Battle later today and no one has the Battle skill. Guess someone is going to have to take the lead and roll Unskilled. The other players can still support to provide modifiers. If an NPC ally has Battle, then per the rules for using allies, one of the players will make their rolls. The Focus should still be on what the PCs are doing to affect the outcome.


            • #7
              Hellfrost has an adventure named "Siege at Watch Gap Fort". It was a fantastic adventure. It felt like the battle of Helms Deep. Totally worth it.