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I need advice on how to run a BATTLE in exalted.

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  • I need advice on how to run a BATTLE in exalted.

    Hello all.
    The advice I need is in how to do this mechanically. Do I run the armies as two separate BATTLE groups? How do I handle different troop types in the same army? Is each type it's own group?
    Another question is how does a low-tech setting handle magical super beings who can emulate 21st century black-ops teams and artillery barrages? How will this affect stories with war and lord of the rings style BATTLEs as a focus?

    I eagerly await your advice on these matters.

  • #2
    Well firstly, what kind of battle is it? Is it a super huge thing with 20,000 soldiers spread across an entire city and multiple fortresses, or like a relatively small group with archer support attacking a town?

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    • #3
      For groups composed of different types of troops, weigh whether you feel the differences are enough to be mechanically or dramatically relevant. Infantry and archers might be able to just be one BG. Infantry and cavalry, probably they should be their own BGs, given the significance of mounted status.

      How does the setting handle juiced-up supers? Well, some can still be BGs with Might, a BG stat reflecting magical army strength. Exalts are more or less never going to be BGs, though, unless somehow you're fielding a hundred Dragonblooded.


      Abyssals: Whom Death Has Called, a PEACH-as-heck attempt to make an Abyssal 3E holdover.

      Where I try to make Artifacts. When I finish them I'll probably post them in the Artifact Workshop thread so people can help me hammer them into shape.

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      • #4
        I'd run it like the first combat here.

        A bit like a Dynasty Warriors game.

        If the PCs are winning in their personal fights, then the army in the background is also winning. If the PCs get pushed back, the army gets pushed back too.

        If the enemy makes a good War roll they might pull off a reversal of fortunes, causing the PC's army to be driven back even as the PCs themselves cleave their way unstoppably forwards.

        I would group all allied troops into a single battlegroup. Yes, you have archers and cavalry and heavy infantry and skirmishers... Exalted doesn't meaningfully discriminate. If it's battlegroup on battlegroup then keep it simple -- narrate it evocatively, but keep the dice rolling and book keeping simple. I'd even group troops vast distances apart into one battlegroup so long as it's two armies squaring off in a straight clash (if it's four different armies and a mile high behemoth squaring off over the sprawling ruins of a first age metropolis as mutated beast-folk despertaly try to escape and elite fae dance through the chaos, then multiple battle groups is probably the way to go). Magnitude damage can represent entire sections of the army being driven back (you free the Market District by routing the Heavy Infantry, but the Skirmishers still control the docks).

        PCs and their kewl powaz are going to dominate. Whether it's with black-ops air strikes or being really good with a sword, the battle turns on their prowess. For an idea of the feel of this, check out the Illiad (or the 2004 Brad Pitt film "Troy"), or the Dynasty Warriors computer games (frankly, Hyrule Warriors is far and away the best).

        Don't expect a hundred farmers with bronze swords to stop the PCs.


        Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
          I'd run it like the first combat here.

          PCs and their kewl powaz are going to dominate. Whether it's with black-ops air strikes or being really good with a sword, the battle turns on their prowess. For an idea of the feel of this, check out the Illiad (or the 2004 Brad Pitt film "Troy"), or the Dynasty Warriors computer games (frankly, Hyrule Warriors is far and away the best).
          What I'm afraid of is that the whole spectable(??) of 1400 century warfare being corrupted by asymentrical pre-emptive modern artillery barrages or warhammer 40K style spacemarine kill-teams.
          Dynasty warriors or Troy-esque heroes getting stuck in is fine, thats what I would prefere. It's the other things I don't like.

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          • #6
            Who/what are the PCs? Because PCs can have very different effects on the battles depending. If you've got a Solar sorcerer throwing around Death Ray, you'll want to approach it very differently to if you've got a Dawn with a bunch of war charms.


            I play...
            Kovan, actor, librarian, sorcerer, great bear, Lunar Elder from the First Age
            Thutmose-Osiris, seventh son of a seventh son, descendant of the Supreme Deity Sukhmet, renegade demigod and bearer of the Ghoul-Banishing Bow. Also bright green.

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            • #7
              It really depends on what you want from the scene.

              Generally speaking, more battle groups offers greater verisimilitude. It makes battles less of a duel between two generals and involves a whole bunch of named lieutenants and sub-commanders to lead specialist formations and since you'll probably outpace the number of war orientated Exalts available to either side you're probably going to need mortal officers with named character status who have a very decent chance of dying if they find themselves unable to get away from an enemy battle group after a lucky roll.

              A more gruelling battle, such as a siege might take place over the course of several scenes interspersed with non-combat scenes that may be critical to later strategic success.


              Onyx Path Forum Moderator
              Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Hyper Prime View Post

                What I'm afraid of is that the whole spectable(??) of 1400 century warfare being corrupted by asymentrical pre-emptive modern artillery barrages or warhammer 40K style spacemarine kill-teams.
                Dynasty warriors or Troy-esque heroes getting stuck in is fine, thats what I would prefere. It's the other things I don't like.
                Spectacle.

                And if your PCs are Solars with Tiger Warriors, high quality Twilight-crafted gear, and maybe some First Age essence weaponry... it could very well be as asymmetrical as WH40k vs IRL Romans Legionnaires.

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=Hyper Prime;n1390318]Hello all.
                  The advice I need is in how to do this mechanically. Do I run the armies as two separate BATTLE groups? How do I handle different troop types in the same army? Is each type it's own group?

                  For running a big battle it depends how you want it to feel, and what opponents there are. If it's just one general and their massive army, I suggest not running it as just one guy and a huge battlegroup. Depending on what PCs you have it will be over very quickly with likewise very little in the way of tactical and strategic depth. Then again if it's just two big forces fighting in a featureless open field that they form big battle lines on and then charge at eachother, that might be the way to do it.

                  If there is terrain around, or buildings, then I can offer more advise, but at this point there's literally hundreds of things I could suggest that would be 100% useless to you because they don't apply to your specific situation.

                  Originally posted by Hyper Prime View Post
                  Another question is how does a low-tech setting handle magical super beings who can emulate 21st century black-ops teams and artillery barrages? How will this affect stories with war and lord of the rings style BATTLEs as a focus?
                  Generally by having those things themselves. Creation is not really a low-fantasy world. Although there are definitely places in the world with less magic, or who don't/can't apply it in a martial way, there's lots of places that can. The nation of Lookshy has a fleet of first age airships and elite marines called the Skyguard, they also have soldiers in fantastical power armor, first age fortresses, and flying single-person aircraft called Windblades.

                  There are also a lot less modern/sci-fi feeling things that make conflict in Creation different. For example a lot of spirits can become immaterial, so while you might want a spec-ops style squad to sneak in someplace, it might be way better to have an invisible immaterial spirit go spying for you. On the other hand the people of Creation know about these things, and have their own magics set up to deal with them for the most part.

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                  • #10
                    Thank you all for the very insightful input. You have given me a lot to think about.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                      I'd run it like the first combat here.

                      A bit like a Dynasty Warriors game.

                      If the PCs are winning in their personal fights, then the army in the background is also winning. If the PCs get pushed back, the army gets pushed back too.
                      That's not quite how DW shakes out all the time. It has a track record for making you babysit allied officers or else, and in earlier games, it was particularly worrisome for being on the opposite side of the map without the capacity to whistle up a horse from nowhere.

                      If the enemy makes a good War roll they might pull off a reversal of fortunes, causing the PC's army to be driven back even as the PCs themselves cleave their way unstoppably forwards.
                      That seems like it might skip over a bit too much action.

                      I would group all allied troops into a single battlegroup. Yes, you have archers and cavalry and heavy infantry and skirmishers... Exalted doesn't meaningfully discriminate.
                      Aren't you supposed to discriminate when you have disparate statistics and capabilities? That's the one occasion when splitting up the force into groups makes perfect sense, because the aggregated masses don't function the same way. Too much aggregation gives you BattleTech Infantry Abstraction issues, where having long-range weapons makes the short-range weapons reach further and expects you to average ammunition types even in one-shot weapons that should only have anti-vehicular ammunition (oh hello LAW).

                      ...Ahem. Sorry, that's a long-standing sore point for me.

                      If it's battlegroup on battlegroup then keep it simple -- narrate it evocatively, but keep the dice rolling and book keeping simple. I'd even group troops vast distances apart into one battlegroup so long as it's two armies squaring off in a straight clash (if it's four different armies and a mile high behemoth squaring off over the sprawling ruins of a first age metropolis as mutated beast-folk despertaly try to escape and elite fae dance through the chaos, then multiple battle groups is probably the way to go). Magnitude damage can represent entire sections of the army being driven back (you free the Market District by routing the Heavy Infantry, but the Skirmishers still control the docks).

                      PCs and their kewl powaz are going to dominate. Whether it's with black-ops air strikes or being really good with a sword, the battle turns on their prowess. For an idea of the feel of this, check out the Illiad (or the 2004 Brad Pitt film "Troy"), or the Dynasty Warriors computer games (frankly, Hyrule Warriors is far and away the best).

                      Don't expect a hundred farmers with bronze swords to stop the PCs.
                      Or even a hundred elite troops with the best equipment.

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                      • #12
                        When it comes to if troops should be divided or not, I consider narrative role more important than the stats. For example, if a sorcerer has two weeks before a battle and summons 10 different kinds of first circle demon I'm not going to run 10 individual characters because they're cannon fodder.

                        With mortals, your heavy cavalry and your skirmishers are probably from very different walks of life which could affect how replaceable their casualties are and who you're upsetting if they get wiped out.


                        Onyx Path Forum Moderator
                        Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                          Don't expect a hundred farmers with bronze swords to stop the PCs.
                          Is this a mechanical assessment, or a statement of priorities to dissuade actually making the attempt?

                          [Note: the "farmer" with a bronze sword is necessarily a wealthy landowner, and quite likely to devote much of their life towards developing personal sword skills and drilling with neighbours so that an effective contribution to the defence of the homeland can be made. The status of being a farmer with a bronze sword is likely contingent on that obligation.]
                          Last edited by Isator Levi; 05-20-2020, 08:25 PM.


                          I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                          Write up as I play Xenoblade Chronicles.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                            Is this a mechanical assessment, or a statement of priorities to dissuade actually making the attempt?

                            [Note: the "farmer" with a bronze sword is necessarily a wealthy landowner, and quite likely to devote much of their life towards developing personal sword skills and drilling with neighbours so that an effective contribution to the defence of the homeland can be made. The status of being a farmer with a bronze sword is likely contingent on that obligation.]
                            In past editions, soldiers that split duties between drill and farming were passingly mentioned as being the solid rank and file that still fell as regular extras, so that might inform a mechanical expectation in this case. I know it informed my response.

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                            • #15
                              Well a guy who turns up to a battle with no equipment except a sword is clearly a fool who's going to get an arrow/spear to the face, but I will assume that wasn't the point.

                              In the context of running a battle, 100 farmers with bronze swords, bronze-tipped spears, and shields, probably practice with their weapons somewhat regularly, have some experience, and some training: We'll call it a Size 3 group of Battle-Ready Troops.

                              If that's it (no enemy Exalted commanders, etc), then as a mechanical assessment, in my experience, a group of 4-6 PCs, unless they are unusually bad at combat, absolutely will thrash that Battle Group, though the less well-defended PCs might get crashed.

                              With 100 elite troops in medium armour with good weapons, my experience is that the PCs will still win but, especially if there's a commander, the less well-defended PCs might get crashed or even damaged. Depends how many PCs, who they are, how well they're fighting together (I'm talking about groups of PCs, I've seen single Essence 4 PCs be chased off by Battle Groups of elite mortal troops with bows).



                              Anyway, I agree with Lioness about the battle groups. If you want the kind of battle where PCs chop through hordes of men, just stick both sides' mortal soldiers into one massive battle group each.*

                              *There is the issue that battle groups only go up to, what, 1000? 2000? I forget the exact number. So if you've got 10,000 a side anyway, you may want to do things differently, either more battle groups or have a lot of it off-screen/by ST fiat.

                              On the other hand, if you want to have a bit more complex thing than "PC stabs battle group, battle group stabs PC" x10, then you might want different battle groups for different narrative/kinds of unit. Maybe one for the central infantry, one for the left flank, one for the right flank, and one for the cavalry reserve. Then you can have things like "The left flank is collapsing, send in the reserve!" or "circle round the side and hit their right flank!" Etc.


                              I play...
                              Kovan, actor, librarian, sorcerer, great bear, Lunar Elder from the First Age
                              Thutmose-Osiris, seventh son of a seventh son, descendant of the Supreme Deity Sukhmet, renegade demigod and bearer of the Ghoul-Banishing Bow. Also bright green.

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