View Full Version : [Exalted]Revised Mass Combat Rules

2010-03-27, 12:20 PM
Revised Mass Combat

In an attempt to correct perceived flaws with the existing mass combat rules, I offer this fix.

Groups of soldiers, called units, fight their battles over the course of many long ticks. A long tick is one minute of time. The character who is directly in charge of a unit is that unit's commander. As with the previous version of mass combat rules, Exalted assumes that a unit's commander leads from the front, fighting with his unit and sharing the danger with his men. Generals who wish to lead from the rear can still direct their troops through relays and standard bearers, but cannot directly contribute to the success of a unit without the use of magic such as War Charms.

Units are no longer broken down into solo units and complementary units. Further, a unit is not statistically represented as its commander plus some trait bonuses. Instead, a unit has its own statistics, based upon the quality of the soldiers in the unit and the size of the unit. Its commander contributes a few additional traits upon the unit, based upon his skill as a general.

Special Unit Rules
Although these rules abstractly represent a unit as a single entity, they remain groups of individuals in reality. This situation confers a few special rules modifications on units.
Special effects must generally be able to affect at least a number of individuals equal to the unit's magnitude to have a meaningful effect on the unit. Inflicting a Knockout Blow on a single soldier does little to prevent his fellows from fighting. Effects that affect an area can affect a unit if the majority of the unit is in that area. An effect that affects all targets in sight affects the unit if the majority of the unit is within line of sight.
This does not apply to attacks, but does apply to special effects delivered by attacks.
Units do not suffer from any penalties not universal to all its members. Units do not suffer from knockback or knockdown (magical or otherwise) unless the effect encompasses every member of the unit (such as an earthquake). If a unit is successfully knocked back or down, it must check immediately for rout (see below). Units cannot be grappled; the closest equivalent to a mass combat grapple is an envelop attack. Crippling effects must be able to simultaneously affect every member of a unit in an identical fashion to have any effect at all.
Area Attacks
While spells such as Death of Obsidian Butterflies and Charms such as Elemental Burst Technique can be deadly to soldiers in normal combat, against a packed formation they are doubly so. Units double the pre-soak damage from attacks that affect multiple targets.

Unit Traits
A unit uses the Essence, Attributes, Abilities, and Virtues of its average member. A unit has access to every Charm possessed by ever member of the unit (so a unit composed of fives Solars who each have Ox-Body Technique and the First Dodge Excellency would have Ox-Body Technique and the First Dodge Excellency). A unit uses the weapons, armor, and equipment that the majority (at least 75%) of soldiers in the unit is using. A unitís health levels are based on its Magnitude (see below).
Additionally, a unit has some additional special traits. These are Movement Rate, Magnitude, Endurance, and Formation.
Movement Rate
A unitís Movement Rate is the speed at which it moves around the battlefield. A unit can only travel as fast as its slowest member. Therefore, the unitís base Movement Rate is equal to speed of the slowest character in the unit (which includes special characters) multiplied by 60. If the entire unit is mounted and has a Ride rating sufficient to control his mount, use the speed of the slowest mount multiplied by 60 instead. This base Movement Rate can be modified by terrain, formation, or other effects.
The Magnitude of a unit is an assessment of the number of characters that are part of it. High Magnitude confers the advantages one would expect. More troops can cause more damage and take higher casualties. However, managing large armies effectively becomes difficult, so most professional militaries strike a balance, breaking their forces into manageable unit sizes, each with their own commander.
No matter how powerful or how large a particular character is, each member of a unit only counts as a single character for the purposes of calculating Magnitude. The following table lists the magnitude value for a given size of unit, its equivalent in the Realmís legionary structure, and how many characters make up an increment for the purposes of health levels, reinforcements, and casualties.
For all magnitudes greater than 10, the next magnitude can include up to twice the number of soldiers as the previous magnitude and has an increment twice as large.
Although units composed of automata or the walking dead might be functionally tireless, mortals and even Exalts cannot march and fight indefinitely. Therefor, every unit has an Endurance rating equal to its (Stamina + Resistance). A unit has a number of Endurance points equal to its Endurance rating. A unit loses Endurance points whenever it takes an exhausting action and regains Endurance points by taking Rest actions. A unit with no Endurance points remaining is at a -2 internal penalty on all actions from fatigue.
If unit members have not rested for several hours before a battle, subtract the fatigue value of the unit's armor from their starting Endurance points.
How troops are deployed matters almost as much as how many troops are deployed. The arrangement of a unitís troops is called its Formation. While the exact specifics of a how the troops are laid out differ from military to military, all are variations on four basic formations. The tighter the Formation, however, the more skill is required to fight effectively while in that formation and thus the higher difficulty needed to properly execute the Formation. The four basic formations are:
Unordered (Difficulty 0): This ďformationĒ is a relative absence of organization Ė a loose band of like-minded combatants rallied behind a leader. Unordered units can win battles by sheer force of numbers, but are at a disadvantage compared to better organized units. Only barbarians field their forces in such a chaotic manner by choice, although professional units may be forced into such a formation if directed attacks take out the relays necessary to maintain order. An unordered unit suffers a -2 internal penalty on all rout checks and moves at 75% of its normal movement rate.
Skirmish (Difficulty 1): In this formation, unit members are stand far enough apart that they could barely reach one another with a long staff. This increases mobility and minimizes casualties imposed by arrow volleys and other ranged attacks, but it leaves the formation vulnerable in close combat. A unit in Skirmish formation doubles its shield and cover bonuses against ranged attacks and receives an additional +2 DV bonus against ranged attacks, but suffers a -2 DV penalty against melee attacks.
Relaxed (Difficulty 1): This is the standard formation of most armies throughout Creation, spacing unit members wide enough that they can each touch the nearest soldier's fingertips if they spread both arms wide. Relaxed formation takes a middle road between Skirmish and Close, offering no advantages but suffering no disadvantages.
Close (Difficulty 2): In this compact arrangement, soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder without any gaps for enemy troops to press through. Soldiers in close formation are better able to defend themselves and their comrades, doubling the bonuses they receive from cover and shields, but they are able to move less quickly, traveling at 75% of their normal movement rate, and they are vulnerable to area-effect attacks from siege weapons, sorcery, Essence weapons, and the like, tripling the base damage of such attacks instead of merely doubling them.

Unit Health Levels
A unit of a given Magnitude has one health level plus one health level for every Increment of soldiers (not counting special characters) over the minimum number for the unit's Magnitude. Half of these Health Levels (round up always) are -0 Health Levels, with the remaining being -1 Health Levels. This means that a unit of a given Magnitude can only have a maximum of five Health Levels from its number of soldiers. Once a unit would gain a sixth Health Level, it increases its Magnitude by 1 and resets its number of Health Levels back to one.
If the unit has Charms or other benefits that add additional Health Levels, such as Ox-Body Technique or the Large mutation, they add the maximum number of Health Levels the Charm could bestow to the unit's health track, but all the added levels are -0. This is to represent the increased resilience of the unit's soldiers.
When a unit takes damage, Health Levels granted by Charms or other similar benefits are lost first, followed by the unit's health levels from numbers.
When a unit loses health levels that were gained by virtue of the unit's numbers, the unit takes a number of Increments of casualties equal to the number of health levels lost. Further, the Health Levels lost are lost permanently, regardless of what type of damage caused the Health Level loss. Only recruiting and reinforcements can restore these health levels.
Units never have Incapacitated or Dying health levels. Instead, If the unit loses its last health level, it loses a dot of magnitude and regains a full complement of health levels (5 plus any gained from Charms). If there is any damage left over, it is applied to the new Health Levels, potentially repeating this process many times until the damage has been completely applied.
Healing and Recruitment
While health levels from Charms and other benefits do heal over time (they return at a rate of one per week of rest), health levels from numbers do not return with time. Instead, a unit must receive reinforcements or spend time recruiting new soldiers to fill its ranks. For every Increment of soldiers it receives/recruits, the unit gains a new health level. As normal, once a unit would have six health levels from numbers, it instead gains a dot of magnitude and resets its health track back to one health level plus any gained from Charms or other effects.
Units do not suffer a risk of infection and do not bleed. Such things are handled on a personal scale, not a mass combat scale.
Not everyone who is lost when a unit takes damage actually dies. Some are severely wounded, some are rendered unconscious, some desert, and some are separated from their unit in the thick of battle. If it matters whether or not a particular member of a unit's rank and file (i.e. a character is not one of the unit's special characters) survives, roll that character's (Wits + War) against a difficulty equal to the largest number of magnitude dots lost in any single attack. If the roll fails, the character died in battle. If the roll botches, the character survives, but is horribly crippled for the rest of his life. All survivors must repeat this roll with a difficulty equal to the total number of magnitude dots lost from the unit lost in the battle. If this roll succeeds, the character survived the battle unscathed. If the roll fails, roll one die. The result is the number of unsoakable lethal health levels the character suffered, which could still kill him. A botch on the second roll means the character dies. Following this, mortal survivors should check normally for infection.

Special Characters
While a unit does not technically need anything other than its composite soldiers to succeed on the battlefield, most units have soldiers and officers who excel above their fellows and almost all units have a commander of some sort. These distinguished individuals are collectively known as Special Characters. Special characters, with the exception of Relays, are never Extras.
Special Characters follow some special rules when in Mass Combat. First, they are semi-independent of their unit. They can make attacks on their own, cast spells, and do most anything that a character in personal combat could do. The only restriction placed upon a special character is that they must move with the unit. A special character who doesn't wish to continue to move with his unit can reflexively break away as a solo unit.
Second, Special Characters attacking a unit halve their raw damage after applying Hardness but before applying Soak. A single man cannot cause as much harm as five men without truly amazing skill or magic.
Third, while Special Characters can be targeted separately from their units, attacks against them suffer an external penalty equal to the greater of the (Unit's War / 2) or (Unit's Magnitude /2).
There are three broad types of special characters.
These special characters are the drummers. standard bearers, junior officers, and other assorted characters responsible for communicating the commander's orders to the ranks. A unit can have up to (Magnitude) relays at any given time, as too many relays cause confusion and delays in the chain of command. A unit needs to have at least its (Magnitude / 2) relays or else the unit suffers Communication Failure until it can recruit or promote more relays to fill the lack. If a unit loses magnitude and has too many relays, excess relays fold back into the rank and file, effectively lost.
Unlike other Special Characters, relays can and often are Extras. Further, they can not take action independently from their unit; their actions are considered subsumed in the effort of coordinating the unit.
The commander of a unit is the special character in direct command of the unit. The commander provides a number of statistics to the unit he commands, namely Tactics, Reaction, and Discipline. The commander counts as a Relay for the purposes of determining if the unit suffers from Communication Failure, but can still take actions separately from his unit. A unit without a Commander is effectively in a permanent state of Communication Failure. A unit can have no more than one commander. Issuing orders to his unit is a reflexive action for the commander.
These special characters are particularly skilled soldiers, actual sorcerers, thamaturges, archers, or other characters who have distinguished themselves from the rank and file. The Thousand Correct Actions of the Upright Soldier uses the designation of "Sorcerer" for particularly skilled ranged combatants and true sorcerers to set them apart in tactical discussions, but functionally Heroes and Sorcerers are the same type of Special Character. A unit can have as many Heroes and Sorcerers as it wishes, but few units count more than one or two among their ranks.

The Benefits of Command
A unit with a commander has the advantage of better coordination and better reaction speed than an unled horde of barbarians. A unit with a more skilled commander will win against an otherwise identical unit. This is because of the benefits that a competent commander provides. A unit gains three special traits from its commander: Tactics, Reaction, and Discipline.
A commander's Tactics rating is a measure of his ability to effectively direct troops in battle. A commander's Tactics rating is equal to the commander's [(Intelligence + War) / 2]. A unit has its effective Ability rating limited by the greater of its commander's Tactics rating or by the unit's (War - Magnitude), with a minimum rating of zero. A special character in a unit uses the greater of his commander's Tactics rating or his own War rating. For example, a Magnitude 1 unit with no commander and with a War of 3 and a Melee of 3 treats its Melee as being only at 2 dots. If a commander with a Tactics of at least 3 took command, it could then use its full Melee score of 3. A special character with a Melee of 5 and a War of 5 attached to the unit would always use his full Melee rating, regardless of the quality of his commander.
A commander's Reaction rating is a representation of his ability to give new orders quickly in the face of unexpected situations. A commander's Reaction rating is equal to the commander's [(Wits or Perception + War)/2]. A unit adds the commander's Reaction rating to rolls to avoid being surprised and to react to situations quickly.
A commander's Discipline rating represents his ability to inspire respect and loyalty in his soldiers. His Discipline rating is equal to his [(Charisma + Performance or War) / 2]. A unit adds their commander's Discipline rating to rolls to resist fear and avoid rout.

Communication Failure
A unit suffers from Communication Failure whenever the commander's orders are suddenly cut off. A unit in communication failure does not benefit from the commander's Tactics, Reaction, and Discipline. It is treated as having a rating of 0 for all of these until the condition causing Communication Failure ends.

The Chain of Command
Sometimes, by accident or through intentional enemy action, a unit's commander dies. In such a case, the hero or sorcerer with the highest War rating immediately assumes command. If the unit has no heroes or sorcerers, then the relay with the highest War rating becomes the new commander. A relay that becomes a commander ceases to be an Extra.
If a unit that has no relays to assume command rolls its Valor + War against a difficulty of its own Magnitude. If it fails the unit hesitates (see below) and loses an entire dot of Magnitude as disheartened soldiers flee the battlefield. Further, the unit must check again on its next action, continuing this process until it either succeeds or the unit has been reduced to Magnitude 0. Once it succeeds, the remaining soldiers continue to fight on, perhaps heartened by their commander's dying example or thirsty for revenge on those who struck down their leader.
A leaderless unit can take a field promotion action (see below) to raise a new relay from its ranks, who would immediately be promoted to the unit's commander.

Solo Units
It is possible for a single character or collection of single characters to take part in Mass Combat without fighting as part of a unit. Characters that do not wish to be part of a Magnitude 1+ unit as either a special character or as an ordinary soldier are represented in the Mass Combat scale as special characters attached to a Magnitude 0 unit. As there are no ordinary soldiers in such a unit, the character is effectively commander and so moves and fights much like normal. He is still subject to the halved raw damage like a normal special character and is still subject to the normal limits on his Abilities, but no other modifications to his Attributes and Abilities is required.
If more than one character groups together as part of the same Magnitude 0 unit, the unit thereafter moves at the rate of the slowest character and must select one of their number to be the effective commander.

Hesitation and Rout
On the battlefield, despair can kill almost as easily as a blade and a soldier who flees at the first sign of trouble is as useless as a corpse. Whenever a unit suffers Magnitude loss from damage, is attacked by siege weaponry, becomes the target of a hostile spell, or disengages from an enemy unit, the unit must check for rout.
Roll the unit's Valor + Discipline against the difficulty listed below. A unit with a War rating in excess of its Magnitude adds the difference in bonus dice, while a unit with a Magnitude in excess of its War rating takes an internal penalty equal to the difference. If the unit is mounted, use the lower of the unit's Valor or the mounts' Valor.
If the rout check succeeds, nothing happens; the unit stands strong in the face of adversity and continues fighting. On a failure, however, the unit hesitates and cannot move unit its next turn. Worse, it loses one health level for every point by which it failed the rout check.

Actions in Mass Combat
Most of the same actions that single characters can take are available to units, modified as necessary for the scale of mass combat. Units also have additional actions that can be taken in the context of mass combat that don't have any personal scale analogs.

Join War
Like Join Battle, a unit takes a Join War action when it first wishes to act in war time. Apart from name and scope, Join War functions identically to Join Battle. Units roll (Wits + War + Reaction - Magnitude), while Special Characters who wish to act on a separate tick from their units roll (Wits + Awareness) as normal.

Activate Charm/Combo/Power
During Mass Combat, units and special characters may use Charms or Combos as appropriate to standard timing rules, substituting long ticks for standard ticks. Further, they can use any single Reflexive Charm to benefit each action, regardless of what Charms they have used recently, but still need a Combo to use more than one Reflexive Charm at the same time. For example, a special character could use the First Melee Excellency to supplement his attack, then use Shadow Over Water to bolster his defense on the same tick, but could not use Solar Counterattack and the First Melee Excellency together without a Combo. Terrestrial Exalted are the exception to this, as they still retain the ability to use their Reflexive Charms freely without need of a Combo.
Charms with a duration of one scene last the full duration of the battle, no matter how long the battle lasts.

This action works as normal.

Attacks are resolved as normal, except that ranged attacks consume three times as much ammunition.
A unit gains a number of bonus successes on its attack rolls and an increase to its Parry DV equal to the number of dots by which its Magnitude exceeds the Magnitude of the enemy unit. A unit has a minimum damage on its attacks equal to the greater of its Essence or (its Magnitude - target's Magnitude).
Attacking is an exhausting action.

Charge (Speed 3, DV -2)
The mass combat equivalent of a dash action, a charge allows a unit to cover ground faster at the cost of defense. A unit moves at (Movement Rate + 360) yards per tick while charging. Charging is an exhausting action.

Units can flurry as normal. If the unit flurries multiple exhausting actions, it loses one point of Endurance for each such action in the flurry.

This action works as normal.

This action works as normal, although circumstances in which a unit is rendered inactive are much less common. The most common is hesitation.

Units can move up to their Movement Rate yards per tick as a reflexive action. A unit can only move in the direction it is facing and ends its movement facing the direction it last moved.

Miscellaneous Action
Units are already assumed to be coordinating attacks, so the coordinate attack action cannot be used in mass combat. Other actions particular to units are described below.
Change Formations (Speed 5, DV -1)
At the commander's order, the unit assumes a new formation. The unit rolls Intelligence + War against the new formation's difficulty. If the unit was attacked since its last action, add 1 to the difficulty. If it is currently engaged with an enemy unit, add 2 instead. The benefits and drawbacks of the new formation go into effect immediately if the roll is successful. If the roll fails, the unit assumes the unordered formation. On a botch, the unit becomes unordered and must test for rout at the standard difficulty.
Disengage (Speed 0, DV -0)
Once a unit has attacked another unit in close combat, the two units are considered engaged. In order for either engaged unit to take any sort of movement action (except a Turn action; see below) away from the other, that unit must succeed on a roll of (Wits + War + Reaction - Magnitude) against a difficulty of (opposing unit's War + 3). If both units wish to disengage from each other, success is automatic. If a unit is engaged by multiple units, it makes a single roll and compares it to the best War rating among opposing units. Disengaging is a reflexive action that can be performed once per action. Disengaging, whether successful or not, provokes a rout check.
Turn (Speed 0, DV -0)
While an individual can whirl to face adversaries on all sides, a unit is not so flexible. A moving unit can turn as necessary to continue moving, but a stationary unit can only change facing once per action. A unit that suffers an attack from directly behind it treats the attack as an unexpected attack.
Split Unit (Speed 3, DV -1)
Events over the course of a battle may make it necessary for part of one unit to break away and become a new unit. Doing so with this action is automatic, provided the unit has soldiers to spare. The parent unit voluntarily gives up one or more Increments of soldiers, losing one health level for each Increment that is donated to the new unit. The child unit comes into existence with as many soldiers in it as the parent unit gave up, with the magnitude and health levels appropriate to that number of soldiers. The child unit has all traits identical to its parent unit except for Magnitude and its current Health Levels. This includes Endurance and Formation.
As part of the process of dividing, the parent unit can also transfer as many of their Special Characters to the child unit as they wish.
Merge Units (Speed 3, DV -1)
If two allied units take significant casualties, it may become prudent to join together and form a single stronger unit. The two units must be adjacent to each other to merge and one of them must take this action to merge into the other. The two units then calculate their new magnitude based upon their combined number of soldiers. All special characters from either unit are special characters in the new combined unit. The unit can only have one commander, so the commander of one of the parent units will need to step down to being a hero. Similarly, any excess relays that the new unit has must fold back into the rank and file.
The combined unit has new Ability, Attribute, and Virtue rating for each trait equal to the lowest rating for that trait from either parent unit. The new unit also has whatever Charms both parent units had in common, but not any Charm that only one parent unit had.
The new unit must succeed at a (Intelligence + War + Reaction) against a difficulty of the larger parent unit's Magnitude or immediately assume unordered formation.
Signal Units (Speed 3, -0 DV)
In the midst of combat, it is not easy for individual units to communicate with one another, especially over any appreciable distance. With this action, the unit sends a message of some kind to other units on the battlefield. The unit can signal a maximum number of units at a time equal to the number of relays it possesses. Such signals are usually coded or not intended to be private, such as the order for a charge.
Rally (Speed 4, -1 DV)
Effective commanders know that passion and personal charisma can lead a unit to victory. This action is an attempt by the commander to draw scattered allies to his banner, so this consumes both the action of the unit and the commander. The commander rolls (Charisma + [War or Performance]) at a difficulty of (Unit's Magnitude - Unit's War), minimum 1. If successful, the unit gains a number of health levels equal to the threshold successes, which can cause the unit to go up in Magnitude.
Rallying is not a miracle, however, so a unit can only rally if there are survivors on the battlefield that were lost when the unit or another allied unit lost health levels. Unless otherwise specified by Charms or other effects, assume that roughly half of the men lost when a unit loses health levels are missing in action instead of dead. The final decision on whether the unit can rally or not rests with the Storyteller.
Field Promotion (Speed 4, -1 DV)
When an unit loses relays in the middle of combat, there is no time for proper bureaucratic procedure. A unit may find a suitable member of the rank and file to serve as a relay with a successful (Wits + War + Reaction) roll. The difficulty of this roll is only 1 if the unit is not currently engaged or under attack. If the unit is engaged or under attack, the difficulty is the difference between the unit's magnitude and the greatest magnitude among its attackers, minimum 1.
A relay promoted from the ranks is an Extra and has the same traits as the average unit member.
Rest (Speed 6, -2 DV)
Exhausted soldiers make mistakes, and mistakes cost lives on the battlefield. A wise commander sees to it that his soldiers do not overexert themselves unnecessarily. A rest action allows a unit to recover Endurance points. The unit rolls (Stamina + Resistance) against the Fatigue rating of their armor. If successful, the unit regains a number of Endurance points equal to the threshold successes.
Envelop (Speed Varies, DV Varies)
A unit is incapable of grappling with another unit. No matter how many of the enemy is held, the rest of an enemy unit is free to move and attack. Instead, a unit may attempt to envelop an enemy unit to prevent them from escaping. The unit must have at least one dot of Magnitude more than the unit it wishes to surround to make an enveloping attack. The unit makes a close combat attack at a -2 external penalty. If the attack is successful, the unit spreads out and flanks the the smaller unit from both sides, trapping it in the center. If the trapped unit attempts to disengage, add the difference between the two unit's Magnitudes to the difficulty. If the larger unit tries to disengage, add one to the difficulty. Until either unit disengages, the effects of enveloping remain.

2010-03-27, 12:21 PM
In case anyone is wondering, I haven't added any Charm revisions yet, as I want to get the basic rules vetted before I go mucking around with Charms, but they will eventually show up.

Lord Iames Osari
2010-03-29, 07:02 PM
Interesting. I read through it all, and I can't spot any obvious holes, but I'm not sure I've quite wrapped my mind around it.