The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

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Throrsgold
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The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Throrsgold » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:05 am

My gaming days date back to the early 70's when I got my start playing Avalon Hill & SPI wargames...hexagons and cardboard chits. Whereas I can handle the strategy and tactics of these games, my experience finds that most role-players cannot. Further, using such methods of mass battle resolution is often drastically unfair to these players and almost always unfair to their characters who actually might have the skills necessary to cope on a battlefield.

Many months ago (lo, on the old forums, even), I mentioned in a thread that I wanted to adapt the GURPS Mass Combat system for use in my TOR games. There are at least two systems of which I am aware written by forumites on Mass Battles/Combat (James R. Brown's and another "unsigned" document...at least my copy has no signature) that handle the actual mass battle. These look great for mass battles, but didn't really answer what I consider the most important question for a role-playing game: What happened to the player-heroes?

So, I present my adaptation. I used GURPS Mass Combat as my primary inspiration with a bit shamelessly borrowed from James R. Brown. I will be using these rules for the first time this Sunday afternoon when the player-heroes fight in the Battle of the Hornburg. Any feedback will be appreciated.

The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Edit: Note, my reference to James R. Brown's Mass Combat refers to his 2 precursors to his The Loremaster's Guide to Mythic Battles dated 3/15/2012 and 12/1/2012. I did not know about the existence of "Mythic Battles" until Beleg commented below.
Last edited by Throrsgold on Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Beleg » Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:05 pm

This looks very interesting Throrsgold. I wonder though, maybe you're being a little bit harsh? 27 Endurance lost on a failure with an Eye is like to render most heroes unconscious instantly. That coupled with two TN 16 Protection tests sounds, well, terrifying. I'm interested to know what your reasoning was for this

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Re: The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Corvo » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:41 pm

Simple, and neat. I like it.

I don't think it's too harsh: battles are harsh! ;)
I have some more reservation on the "no more than 3 dices" on battle skill.

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Re: The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Throrsgold » Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:49 pm

Beleg wrote:I wonder though, maybe you're being a little bit harsh? 27 Endurance lost on a failure with an Eye is like to render most heroes unconscious instantly. That coupled with two TN 16 Protection tests sounds, well, terrifying. I'm interested to know what your reasoning was for this

My reasoning stems from the GURPS material, wherein critically failing the Survival roll was devastating to a PC...and was typically fatal. In that system, PCs had hit points equal to their Constitution which usually ranged between 11 and 15 (you purchase your Attributes with character points where the higher the number, the higher the cost). 15 was the highest I had ever seen a PC have in 8+ years of playing. Damage was based upon the technology level of the warring factions and was a random roll. At the medieval technology level, critically failing the Survival roll resulted in 3 x 2d6+2 damage minus the Damage Resistance of the worn armor. As damage in TOR is static (i.e., you hit with a sword, you do 5 points of damage unless you get a great or extraordinary success in which you add another flat number), I opted to use an average die roll and apply that instead of rolling the damage. In GURPS, you can see that the average of that damage is 27 minus armor (4 for mail, for instance). Using these figures (in GURPS), the PC would take 23 (27 minus 4) points of damage to a hit point level of 15...the PC is dead. Although Endurance levels in TOR are higher than hit points in GURPS, I opted to keep the damage "as is"...I wanted the worst to maybe be fatal...not certainly fatal.
Corvo wrote:I have some more reservation on the "no more than 3 dices" on battle skill.

Again, in the GURPS material, there is a maximum of the PC's skill that can be applied. In GURPS, it is 16. If your "Battle skill" (a derived skill equal to the average of the PC's Tactics skill and main weapon skill with bonuses/penalties applied for advantages/disadvantages) is higher than a 16, you still cap out at 16. For those who are not familiar with GURPS, you roll 3d6 for everything and you want to roll under your skill. So, in this case, rolling a 17 or 18 is always a failure. Basically, no matter how good you are, there is still a chance something untoward may happen to you on a battlefield. For instance, Bilbo was knocked out during the Battle of Five Armies while he was invisible...he had not been targeted...he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time...that is, poop happens.

I wanted to emulate that possibility in this system, too. Fortunately, I did not need to create a derived skill as TOR already had a ready-to-use Battle skill! Originally, I set the maximum of the Battle skill to 3 success dice, but decided later that I would raise it to 4 success dice. Unfortunately, I see that I did not actually change it in the document. I will correct the document and upload a new version tonight.

To Beleg & Corvo: Thanks to you both! Do you have any recommendations?

I invite further feedback.
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Re: The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Beleg » Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:33 pm

Seeing your reasoning has made me change my opinion completely. I now think the damage is perfectly fine. I'm wondering though, what else do your players do during the battle? Do you play out the rest of the battle narratively, similar to James R. Brown's Mythic Battles, or do you have the players run through little combat scenes? I'm curious as to how this will work inconjunction with the rolls for any damage taken

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Re: The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Throrsgold » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:30 pm

Beleg wrote:I'm wondering though, what else do your players do during the battle? Do you play out the rest of the battle narratively, similar to James R. Brown's Mythic Battles, or do you have the players run through little combat scenes? I'm curious as to how this will work inconjunction with the rolls for any damage taken

My plan is to play it out narratively. This is definitely a work in progress, though, as my players are really loathe to add in extra flair to describe their actions. For example, I encourage them to explain to me how they are using the extra Battle dice, or how they are invoking their Traits...they just want to roll the extra die and add the value or invoke a Trait, make it a success...it's like pulling teeth. I do get frustrated with this, but I keep plugging away...encouragement, encouragement, encouragement!

BTW, the corrected version is up on Dropbox.
Last edited by Throrsgold on Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Corvo » Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:55 am

Throrsgold, about GURPS 16 limit...
(GURPS discussion follow. Non GURPSers be warned).

If I remember correctly (going from memory, GURPS 3rd Ed.), 16 is the practical ceiling of any skill: 17-18 was automatic failure. Critical failure unless your skill was 16, when 17 became normal failure and 18 critical.
From a mechanical pov, if you go beyond 16 you cannot have a success/failure/crit.failure spread. And with 16 you are already in the 98% success range, more or less.

Just to say that maybe you can do away with that Battle skill limit in TOR, an inherently more "heroic" game ;)

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Re: The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Throrsgold » Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:46 pm

Corvo wrote:Just to say that maybe you can do away with that Battle skill limit in TOR, an inherently more "heroic" game ;)

Removed the limit and uploaded the corrected document.

I ran the Battle of the Hornburg (twice) today using both my system and James R. Brown's The Loremaster's Guide to Mythic Battles system. Two of my seven players preferred my system while the rest preferred Mythic Battles. Of the two that preferred mine, one did so because it was quicker and the other because he lived using my system but died in the other. The rest preferred Mythic Battles because it was more involved (i.e., more to do)...the Battle Hazards are really heroic...and dangerous, too!

The one player-hero that died was killed in a Cut Off The Head Battle Hazard...taken down by a Great Orc...unconscious...rolled a 1 on his Success die to invoke a coup de grace. Two other player-heroes attempted to prevent the coup de grace by Heroic Actions...both failed (abysmally) with an Eye result, though. The player-hero was hacked to bits.
Last edited by Throrsgold on Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Beleg » Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:54 pm

Two of my seven players preferred my system while the rest preferred Mythic Battles
That's interesting. Had any of your players played GURPS? (I haven't, just curious)

It also sounds as though your players had fun, and the hero died a valiant death (I hope so anyway)

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Re: The One Ring RPG – Player-heroes in Mass Battles

Post by Throrsgold » Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:42 pm

Beleg wrote:That's interesting. Had any of your players played GURPS? (I haven't, just curious)
It also sounds as though your players had fun, and the hero died a valiant death (I hope so anyway)

Only one had played GURPS before and she says it was only "okay." Too, she liked her two Battle Hazards which manifested as her saving some Rohirric children from slaughter in the Glittering Caves (3rd Wave) and Eomer from a sneak attack in the Glittering Caves (4th Wave).

Yes, they all said they had a good time, even the player that had his character die. He considered his death valiant...he was fighting a Great Orc...he described it as "a super Orc."

The other player who preferred my system spent more Hope in Mythic Battles which caused his Hope to drop below his Shadow. An Eye result caused his Lure of Power to come into play...a Bout of Madness occurred. This was handled as, during the battle, he saw an enemy of his family (one who had used Grima Wormtongue's dominance to put the player-heroes' family into disfavor, resulting in a loss of lands and Standing) in dire straits. He ended up killing this enemy with a coup de gace...which was observed by a cousin of the slain man who challenged the player-hero to a duel after the battle and was also killed by the player-hero in that duel!
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