Defending the Town!

In the previous session report I mentioned a minigame I created so that the players could control the town militia they’d created, and try to drive away some orc raiders. These are the mechanics I used, created in a little haste the day before. They definitely need work, but here’s the playable beta.

 Basic Militia

The Monster Manual has a stat block for a ‘Guard’ which is always a good starting point. For my campaign the town is a bit of backwater, and the players had outfitted their militia with ring mail, spears and crossbows, so their guards were just a little different:

Guard

AC 13, Hit points 10, Speed 30ft, Perception +2

Str 13  Dex 12  Con 12  Int 10  Wis 11  Cha 10

Spear: +3, 1d8+1    Crossbow: +3, 1d8

So pretty basic, they have zeroes in all skills (except perception) and would probably get massacred by any serious force. They’re also pretty uninteresting as characters, and most players wouldn’t care very much about them. However, the players also promoted a captain of the guard…

Militia with Character

Playing every guard as an NPC would be really tiresome, but an easy way of giving the whole force character is with a captain. For my campaign the players already had a woman called Ryellia, but they hadn’t really interacted with her much, so she was almost a blank slate. I therefore though a great way of giving the town militia a little more flavour was have them as a reflection of Ryellia.

Captain of the guard, Ryellia Wynte. (Picture is from Icewind Dale, which has clearly influenced more of my life choices than I realise...)
Captain of the guard, Ryellia Wynte.
(Picture is from Icewind Dale, which has clearly influenced more of my life choices than I realise…)

I told the players to describe Ryellia: is she tough, smart, shrewd, quick, etc? Essentially pick two adjectives and assign them to the usual d&d stats (e.g. tough -> Con, shrewd -> Wis, etc). Assuming the captain would train her guards according to her own traits, we can then apply bonuses to the militia based on Ryellia’s personality:

  • Str: +1 to hit and damage with spear
  • Dex: +1 to hit with crossbow and +2 to initiative
  • Con: +2 hit points
  • Int: better investigation, so find more loot (see below)
  • Wis: advantage to perception checks
  • Cha: less likely to flee, and chance of healing a wounded guard (see below)

Intelligence and Charisma are difficult, as they aren’t immediately useful to the average town guard.

I decided that a high intelligence would give the force a better investigation skill, and so they would solve more crime and find any ill-gotten gains (i.e. they would hand over better loot to the players). A high charisma would ensure the militia would be less likely to flee when things start going against them, and a shout from Ryellia could bring a single fallen guard back to life (“Soldier! Did I tell you you could die? On your feet!”).

Playing the Militia

I started the ‘encounter’ with the militia at rest (they’re part-timers) and only a skeleton staff on guard. They therefore needed a perception check to first realise they were under attack! I decided DC10 to see something and get ready, and DC15 to determine the rough direction the attackers were coming from. The players could then direct their forces and decide how to get ready (or not, as the case may be).

“I thought this game had a pseudo-medieval setting. Why are we dressed a hoplites?”
“Shut up Dave.”

For the actual fighting I think was a little too loose with how it was run, and the whole thing descended into rolling handfuls of dice and seeing who had the higher number. The idea was for the players to decide how to fight, i.e. what formation to take, whether to split their force, take cover in buildings, evacuate townsfolk, etc.

I think it would better to run this a rough wargame – roll for ranged weapons in initiative order, then melee as applicable. Grant AC bonuses for cover as normal, but also grant bonuses/penalties for formations/tactics:

  • Line: full number of attacks
  • Phalanx: +2AC, reduce number of attacks (those as the back can’t reach/see)
  • Flanked: -2AC
  • Full defence: +4AC, no attacks
  • Charge: double melee damage, all attacking units lose 2hp

You could also (for very big fights) just use the Unearthed Arcana rules, from a few months ago. But I wanted to make something simpler, for a small force.

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