Orders and Other Actions

Most units in the battle are assumed to be led by captains that don’t take a lot of their own initiative. Others are led by PCs or named NPCs. The battle as a whole has a battle leader (likely a general or high lord for larger conflicts) who is the primary author of tactics.

Each round, the battle leader can issue a number of orders equal to his or her Leadership score (as generated for followers using the Leadership feat). If the battle leader is also embedded in a unit, he or she can also selectively control that unit (gaining a free order as a Hero leader). At the GM’s option, particularly unruly or green units may require additional orders to be spent to get them to comply. Additionally, if the unit is far from the leader (without some method of fast communication), it may cost extra orders to get a command through. For example, a battle leader at the rear of the army tries to command his unit of barbarian savages and spends 4 total Orders for each command (2 for uncooperativeness and 1 for distance).

If a Hero is embedded with a unit, that character can issue a single order to his or her own unit each turn (with no penalty for unruliness), from a limited subset of orders. If the Hero gives an order on the same round as the battle leader, the battle leader pays an additional order to get the unit to comply. Typically, battle leaders trust their Hero captains to handle simple changes in the fortune of battle, only giving them orders for more wide-ranging tactical decisions.

A unit will carry out the same order on subsequent rounds until it suffers a morale failure, can no longer pursue the order (in which case it automatically uses the Hold order), or receives a different order.

  • Heros and Battle Leaders:
    • Engage: Move to attack a declared, visible target. Continue attacking and following the target until it is defeated. For archers, the unit needs only move to effective range; archers will typically not fire into melee unless deliberately given an order to Engage with a target already in melee.
    • Hold: Stay in your current position and ready an attack on anyone that engages you in melee. For archers, stay in your current position unless pursued; in that case, try to stay out of range of the pursuers.
    • Retreat: If in melee with an enemy unit, take a five-foot step toward the back lines. If not in melee, take a normal move toward the back lines but try to remain facing the enemy. In either case, ready an action to attack any targets that pursue back into melee.
    • Rally: Remove the Retreat or Break order. If Retreat was issued as an actual order, as opposed to a Morale failure, this is automatic. If either was caused due to Morale, the leader issuing the order must also succeed at a Charisma check with the same DC as the failed save. If the leader fails, but not by five or more, a Break is at least turned into a Retreat.
  • Battle Leaders only:
    • Advance: Move toward a given tactical objective. Engage with any enemies that attempt to stop you but do not pursue them if they retreat. Secure the objective if you get there.
    • Flank: Engage with the target, but attempt to do so by moving opposite an already engaged ally unit or by attacking it from behind.
    • Position: Move to a designated space and then Hold.
    • Reinforce: Move adjacent to a designated unit and Aid Another on that unit’s attacks. Engage the target if the unit retreats, breaks, or is defeated.

A unit may also give itself the Break order if it fails a Morale save. In this case, the unit turns its back to the enemy and attempts to flee from the battle at full speed. This provokes at least one Attack of Opportunity. If a unit fails a Morale save, the battle leader or the embedded Hero can attempt to Rally the unit.

PCs and Magic

As noted, a PC embedded in a unit counts as a Hero for purposes of morale and orders.

When a PC is embedded in a lower level unit, the GM should eyeball how many of the enemy soldiers in a unit that PC could fell in a round (e.g., a PC with one iterative attack, cleave, and a high damage can probably take out 2-4 low level targets each round). Add that number times the level of the targets and deal that much damage to the enemy each round that the PC’s unit is attacking, in addition to the normal round’s attack. For example, a character that can reasonably be expected to defeat two 3rd level warriors each round deals 6 bonus damage each round to that unit (to represent defeating twenty enemies a minute purely by himself).

If a unit fails a morale check and won’t Rally, a PC may disengage from the unit and begin interacting as if part of a normal combat. Similarly, game events may happen that temporarily focus the mass battle on individual combat rounds (such as the PC’s unit engaging with a unit led by an important NPC that he wants to fight). Play these out in normal rounds as long as you are comfortable, remembering to do another battle round if the fight lasts more than 10 regular rounds.

A spellcaster embedded in a unit can cast one spell per battle round (it’s assumed it takes that long to get good line of sight, out of melee with enemies, etc., keeping the caster from firing 10 spells per round). Single-target spells typically have limited impact on a battle unless they’re buffs that increase a PC’s damage bonus by making him kill faster. AoEs deal their full effect if they can cover most of the units in a 50 foot space (comparatively less if they can affect less, at the GM’s discretion). Truly large AoEs might hit multiple units. For example, a Bless spell increases the unit’s attack rolls and Morale saves by +1, while a seventh level fireball does 7d6 (save for half) to the enemy unit.

HP, Defeat, and Casualties

As in its normal use, HP of a unit is abstract. The unit is fully effective (save for Morale penalties) until reduced to 0 HP. After the battle, the damage to a unit is assessed based on how the battle went:

HP Damage Landslide Win Solid Win Close Win/Loss Solid Loss Tragic Loss
1-10% 0 1d10 2d10-1 2d10+1 3d10-1
11-25% 1d10 2d10-1 2d10+1 3d10-1 3d10+1
26-50% 2d10 3d10-1 3d10+1 4d10 5d10
51-90% 3d10 4d10 5d10 6d10 7d10
91-99% 4d10 5d10 6d10 7d10 8d10
Defeated 5d10 6d10 8d10 9d10 10d10

The result is the number of deaths in the unit. Divide the result by 2 for Archers and by 5 for Cavalry. If the result is greater than the percentage lost (i.e., if you roll high on the upper right side of the chart), cap it out at the percentage lost (e.g., a roll of 31 for a 25% loss of infantry is actually only 25 deaths).

Reduce the maximum HP of the unit accordingly until replacements can be found. The rest of the unit’s HP heal at the normal rate of 10 per unit level per day (i.e., 10 times the normal non-magical rate). For magic healing, divide single-target heals by 10. AoE heals restore their full amount to the unit.