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Battlegroup Revamp v0.1

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  • Battlegroup Revamp v0.1

    Battle Group Revamp v0.1
    By: Sandact6


    Tired of the way battle groups work in the vanilla game? Want to use something different? Then you’re in luck my friend. Do you have no issues with battle groups as currently written? First I’m wondering why you’re here, but if you wish to know why I’m doing this then it’s simply: Battle groups barely work in the base game. What this document aims to do is make battle groups play a bit more friendly with the 3e base mechanics while leaving most (if not all) other material related to battlegroups intact. War charms function on them properly, charms which call out battlegroups still functioning as normal.

    The external google document can be found here.

    Battle Group Traits

    The Size trait remains the same as outlined in Exalted 3e. It ranges from 1-5 based on the amount of soldiers present and adds a similar amount to the battlegroup’s accuracy, damage, soak, and increase to its magnitude. To make this an all in one document, I’ll make the size list below in a table.
    Size in-game Typical amount of soldiers for size
    0 One or two soldiers. Do not use the battle group system, rather make them individual units
    1 6-12 opponents
    2 A few dozen
    3 Up to a hundred
    4 Several hundred combatants
    5 Up and over 1000 combatants
    6+ Start splitting battle groups up into multiple separate battlegroups
    Drill represents both the training of the soldiers within the battle group as well as their skill and familiarity with each other’s tactics. In this rework Drill is mainly used to increase the dice cap of the army and the maximum amount of dice one may receive from an Order action but is also used to maintain group cohesion.

    There are three categories of Drill:

    Poor — The unit has little if any experience in combat together or just experience in combat period. Such troops are typically thrown together in a haphazard fashion and are told little about what to do in combat other than to poke the enemy with the pointy bit on your weapon. Examples of such troops are conscripted townsfolk hurriedly shoved into battle-worn equipment, flash-mods, raiders who care little about coordination, mindless undead, or consumers pouring into a shopping mall en masse on Black Friday.

    Poor quality troops inflict a -2 penalty to order and rally for numbers actions, have no defence modifiers, and raise the difficulty of al rout and rally rolls by 1. They increase their dice cap by 1. Shockingly, poorly trained troops have trouble following orders.

    Average — Average quality troops have been hardened by either their drill instructors or the flames of war themselves. Such people have the knowledge and/or experience fighting in a group and usually know what to do in the midst of battle. Examples include most standing armies, common mercenary groups, most guards for either caravans or palaces, and bargain hunters on Black Friday.

    Average quality groups receive no innate bonus or penalty to command based rolls and possess +1 defence. They increase their dice cap by 3.

    Elite — The badasses of one’s group. The ones who march to battle in the pouring rain with minimal supplies and outnumbered then pity the poor bastards they’re up going up against. Such units function as a well-oiled machine, each member knowing exactly what their comrades are doing in battle and have the experience to know what to do when things get rough. The Legion of Silence, Tiger-Warriors, the Brides of Ahlat, and extreme coupon hunters are some of the members of this exclusive club.

    Elite quality groups receive a +2 bonus to all command actions involving them while possessing the +1 defence Average quality troops have. They increase their dice cap by 5.

    Might is very rarely necessary in this new rework. Rather than an abstraction of magical prowess, characters in a battle group may use their charms as if they were a normal individual character. If empowered by magic that provides Might then Storytellers are encouraged to give a battlegroup unique, individual attacks based upon the magic or battlegroups in question. Rare are the magical beings who are well-versed in the arts of war whom are unable to provide any blessings.

    This stat is only kept around for bookkeeping purposes. For the purposes of charms that call this stat out, such as a charm which alters its effect on a battlegroup without might, it still exists. Think of it like a “Schrödinger's stat”, only existing when actually observed. If Storytellers are lazy or do not have sufficient time to make such individual traits then follow this quick rule: For each rank of Might a battle group has they may turn one dice on an attack roll into an automatic success, turn one die of post-soak withering damage into an automatic success, and add one threshold success on a decisive attack roll into an additional die of damage. While defending they remove a similar amount of dice post-soak on withering damage and lower the damage of decisive attacks by a similar amount before being compared to hardness. I don’t know if this is balanced, as literally, I’m going off how hard it is to get might 3.

    A measure of how hardy the battle group is, functioning essentially as their health levels. A battle group has an amount of magnitude equal to the average amount of health levels all members have plus their size. This means a size 3 battlegroup of normal humans without modifiers will have a magnitude of 10. Once magnitude hits zero then a battle group is decreased in size and refills their magnitude. Magnitude is calculated the same as in the Exalted 3e core, but differences will be discussed in the next section.

    As mentioned in the core book, magnitude represents the total loss of soldiers. This does not mean that every one of them are dead or injured; some of the numbers from a loss of size do represent that but also represent soldiers who have become lost, cut off from the main group, those who have run away, or those simply taking a piss. Point is, anyone missing from combat contributes to magnitude loss.

    Once a battlegroup runs out of magnitude and size they are considered dissolved.

    Dice caps
    The maximum amount of dice a Battlegroup may add to any given roll is equal to their (Size+Drill bonus). This means a Size 3 group of average soldiers may add up to 6 dice while a similar group with Elite drill may add up to 8.

    Before you ask, any successes added to attack rolls are counted as two dice each.

    Fighting Battle Groups
    In this rework battle groups operate the same as any other standard character. They reap initiative from withering attacks and need to spend it in order to do any damage to a character’s health track with decisive attacks. The only difference is that battle groups have some minor tweaks in how they do some things.

    Battlegroups and positioning remain relatively unchanged from the Exalted 3e core book. Battlegroups are able to take up multiple range brands or areas and are capable of engaging multiple opponents at once. If a battlegroup’s size is at least two or more from the opponent then a battle group may disengage or pull away from characters without need for a roll.

    Battlegroups when Attacking
    When battlegroups make a melee attack, withering or decisive, they make one roll against everyone they are currently engaged with. Ranged attacks also use one roll but target everything within close range of a single target, the area of effect increasing to short if enough soldiers are attacking the area. When making a decisive attack, battlegroups do not add their size bonus to the attack roll, but still use it to calculate any possible dice cap. This means that a Size 3 battle group of average drill soldiers may add up to 6 dice via command actions.

    Battlegroups gain an amount of initiative equal to the single highest amount of withering damage inflicted upon an opponent with an additional point of initiative per character damaged. Battlegroups receive any initiative break bonuses as per normal.

    When making a decisive attack battlegroups simply divide the initiative amongst those they are engaged or targeting as they please. This otherwise follows the same rules as when making a normal decisive attack otherwise. Note that even an attack that has 0 initiative put into it still applies onslaught as normal.

    Battlegroups when Defending
    Battlegroups defend against any attack using their defence stat as per normal, any take onslaught as per normal as well.

    When subjected to a withering attack then the damage is calculated as normal: Add up excess successes on the attack roll, add up excess successes as bonus damage dice, subtract the battlegroup’s soak, then roll the remaining die. Any dice that show a success subtracts one point of initiative from the battle group per success. When the battlegroup is crashed however each success on the damage roll subtracts one point of initiative and magnitude per success. If subject to a decisive attack then the attack is also resolved normally against a battlegroup’s magnitude, but inflict one additional level of automatic damage per four dice rolled (round up). Attackers receive an initiative break bonus whenever a battle group falls in size or are responsible for dissolving said unit.

    If a Warstrider uses their Devastating action to attack a battlegroup then they do not gain any initiative from the attack except for the automatic point of initiative for a successful attack and any initiative break bonuses.

    Damage and Rout
    These are the same rules as the corebook, but I shall put them here for your convenience.

    Battles are rarely one by slaughtering one side to the last. Most times one side will break first, the soldiers turning tail and running away from a losing battle, or by surrendering. Whenever a battlegroup suffers enough damage to deplete its current magnitude and is reduced by a point of size, the battle group must check for rout.

    The dicepool for a rout roll is equal to the average willpower amongst all the members in the battlegroup modified by Drill. The difficulty begins at 1, but has a number of modifiers:
    Difficulty Modifier Condition
    +1 Another allied battle group has already suffered dissolution during the fight.
    +1 One or more of the battle group’s leaders or heroes have been incapacitated or killed during the battle.
    +1 Per point of size the battle group has already lost during the scene.
    +1 The rout check is provoked by a devastating supernatural area-of-effect such as the spell Death of Obsidian Butterflies.
    +1 The battlegroup is currently crashed when the rout check is prompted.
    +2 The coupon you brought to the Black Friday sale is expired and you’re next up at the checkout.
    If a rout check succeeds then the battlegroup decreases its size by 1 then restores all points of magnitude. If it fails then its size lowers by 1 at the beginning of next turn until they reach Size 0, which at that point they are dissolved.

    Command Actions
    Leaders of a battlegroup may issue various commands in order to aid or increase the effectiveness of the battle group. To do this the character must be the recognized leader of the battle group or someone who is a well-known and trusted hero within the group. There are three types of commands one may issue: Order, Rally, or Rally for Numbers.

    Order — Issuing an order is a ([CHARISMA / APPEARANCE / INTELLIGENCE] + War) roll against a difficulty of 1. Intelligence is used for ‘armchair’ generals who command from the rear while Charisma and Appearance are used for leading from the front. Any excess successes on an Order roll apply to all actions on the battlegroup’s next turn, subject to normal dice caps. Wise commanders will attempt to bolster their force with an order action prior to making a decisive attack.

    Rally — After an allied battle group has failed a rout check but before dissolution occurs a character may roll (APPEARANCE/CHARISMA + WAR) against the same difficulty as the failed rout check, success means the battle group recovers as if it had succeeded it’s rout check. If the roll fails then the soldiers are too terrified to heed the commands, and cannot be targeted by this roll until the next turn.

    Rally for Numbers - After an allied battle group has suffered magnitude damage the commander may roll (Appearance / Charisma + WAR) and for every two successes restores a single point of magnitude damage. Soldiers flee back to the fight with a renewed vigour once again. This may not reward a battlegroup magnitude beyond their current cap and the Storyteller may veto this action if a sufficient number of soldiers are either killed or permanently cut off from the battle. A battlegroup may only benefit from this roll once per size, reset upon losing a dot of size.

    Two additional factors to consider when going up against battlegroups.

    Perfect Morale
    Battlegroups with perfect morale are considered fearless. They automatically pass all rout checks and never retreat unless ordered. People possessing such fortitude are incredibly rare in the current age. Only units such as mindless undead, dream-eaten husks of the Fey, the clockwork automatons of the First Age, or soccer moms getting gifts for their children on Black Friday sales possess such morale.

    In battle, such groups with Perfect Morale automatically pass all rout checks and add +3 to their magnitude calculations. The downside is that these units fight to the death, so very few if any units will respond to a Rally For Numbers action.

    While a battle group that has suffered dissolution in battle is no longer a threat in battle, the surviving actors of the battlegroup are usually still there at the scene. This can give the remaining actors time to possibly regroup and attack again. In this case, the victorious force puts the laughter in slaughter and orders their soldiers to kill any remaining men.

    To calculate this the Storyteller takes the size and magnitude of the fleeing unit and calculates any damage as if the unit is crashed and suffers a -3 penalty to defence. Any damage done to this track is narrated as if the soldiers are simply killed off. A single hero can attempt to hunt down fleeing soldiers, but unless they possess potent magic are unable to do such an action on a fleeing battlegroup. There are simply too many soldiers too spread out to even attempt.

    Strategic Warfare
    Literally unchanged from the book. I’d like to give it some revisions, but for now, it suits its purpose.

    As mentioned previously, charms written for 3e should mostly work the same for this new system. Here are some new charms that work with the new system... maybe in the future sometime.

    Solar War

    Ideal Battle Knowledge Prana
    In addition to its other effects, a Solar may set the maximum amount of bonus dice a battlegroup receives from Drill to the Solar’s War rating, if higher. If this means that if the Solar with War 4 attempts to make an order roll on a size 2 battlegroup with Poor Drill, the Solar may add up to 6 dice to the attack action rather than 3.

    Dragonblooded War

    Tactics Mean Everything
    For each 2m spends on this charm, the Dragonblooded increases the maximum dice cap a battlegroup receives from Drill by 1 to a maximum of 5. I know this is front-loading the excellency but this thing is simply not worth a charm purchase by its lonesome.

    Lunar War

    Pack Leader Attitude
    In addition to its other effects, a Lunar may set the maximum amount of bonus dice a battlegroup receives from Drill to the Solar’s Charisma rating, if higher. If this means that if the Lunar with Charisma 4 attempts to make an order roll on a size 2 battlegroup with Poor Drill, the Lunar may add up to 6 dice to the attack action rather than 3. If the Lunar meets the Totemic requirement she may use her Strength instead.

    White Reaper Style

    Greatest Killer Attitude
    When making a withering attack against a battlegroup the automatic successes drain both initiative and magnitude damage. When making a decisive attack against a battle group the stylist may always convert up to (Strength) dice of raw damage int automatic successes on the damage roll rather than (Strength or Essence, lower). Lastly, if the stylist has White Reaper Form active, they may choose whenever or not to slaughter troops on the decisive attack instead.


    Q: I don’t see why you made this. I never had a problem with battle groups.

    A: People still use Steel Devil and claim they have no problems, it doesn’t mean they still exist. For me these problems are very real, and very annoying as all it typically takes is one lucky battlegroup roll to win an entire combat encounter. I’ve seen it multiple times where a battle group makes a single lucky roll (often from a command action getting an insanely lucky amount of successes) to critically endanger the entire board in one sweep. I can get powerful bosses doing this, but even then their follow up decisives are usually not as bad as what a battle group could dish out to everyone equally.

    I’ve also heard people say this isn’t a problem with smaller battlegroups. I find this true, as Size 1-2 battlegroups can be torn up pretty quickly. My issue is that the system as-is breaks at the higher ends of it.

    Q: Why are dice caps so heavily penalized when something like survival has them intact?

    A: They were worse in battlegroups with how their damage worked, marginally. Solar Survival is overtuned and don’t even deny that it ain’t. If you want to implement a similar cap to Survival charms equal to the Solars (WITS/INT+SURVIVAL) to keep them on par with battlegroups be my guest. If the Storyteller also wants to subtract some dice on the decisive attack roll your familiar makes then he is allowed to do so because lol quick characters*.

    *For those who don’t know, Quick Characters also have some issues. One of them being how many dice they throw on attack rolls. Keeping the same dice value may always be quick and easy for the Storyteller, but it leads to some issues with Elephants have a 15 dice they can decisive you with. How or why an Elephant casually throws around more dice on a decisive attack than the chosen is anyone’s guess.

    Q: These rules make combat take longer. The original point of battlegroups was to make combat shorter.

    A: I doubt the original point of battlegroups were to plunge everyone so deeply into a nigh-unwinnable loss state in a single roll either. I doubt it was unintentional to make a variety of magical creatures then have a variety of their powers fail to function as the system didn’t address it. Battlegroups in this are deadly, but can still be dogpiled and ground down quickly if the PC’s focus just like any other deadly enemy.

    Q: If you find battlegroups too annoying, make them retreat by a rout check instead.

    A: I’ve only seen battlegroups with two modes: Fodder for the PC’s or the wall that devours initiative alive. This works on some lower die commanders, but for a competent supernatural commander? Rolling 12 dice and blowing a WP means that they’re going to make the battlegroup recover most of the time. I think I’ve only seen it happen literally once ever in a game.

    Q: You can get really high dice pools with this

    A: Yes, I know. My baseline for this is assuming that the typical elite soldier will have around 11 dice to attack. With size 3, about the average size for a battlegroup, that’s about 14 dice to attack. I think that isn’t too terrible. Even Size 5 is 16 dice which is upper end of optimization but still easily manageable. If you let your players go nuts and let them train badasses who have 5 attribute 5 ability with a speciality and artifact weapons somehow, then complain to me that your battlegroup has 21 base dice for a withering attack? You brought that on yourself.

    This can be an issue with animals, but as mentioned above I usually balance this around an 11 base dice for attack. If you’re using Elephants then reduce their accuracy for the love of christ. Secondly take comfort in knowing such battlegroups will probably be much smaller in size than human ones.

    Q: What’s with the Black Friday references?

    A: Look if you’re going to try and make a point don’t make it completely nonsensical.

    Why this was Made

    Here are my reasons for wanting to make this project. If you don’t care, feel free to ignore it.

    Damage Resolution

    So what if I told you I wanted a charm that makes a withering attack against a crashed opponent where any successes on the damage roll are applied as straight damage to their health level track? What if I told you that charm would be 0m and have absolutely no cooldown? If your response is thinking that’s hideously broken then you’d be correct, it is.

    So why are battle groups allowed to do this? Within all opponents in range no less?

    This damage resolution mechanic completely subverts the entire purpose of the withering/decisive split that 3e has. This is done for the sake of simplicity, but the only thing it serves to do is severely punish anyone with low soaks, far more than the normal withering/decisive split. How do you even defend against such an attack as well? Can you even use your decisive defences? Who knows!

    I simplifed this, battle groups will play by the same rules that everyone else does now.

    Dice Caps

    Don’t you love it when you add up to +15 dice to a single action? Then have all those wonderful threshold successes tear into a crashed opponent and obliterate opponents? Don’t you love it when you do it to PC’s even possibly by accident?

    Command actions have no cap and that’s already bad enough. Yes, there are charms where one can do the same with charms but at least that requires more investment beyond one or two charms and not a base feature. For these reasons I am to put some dice caps on battle groups.

    The Boredom of Might

    Don’t you love it that because you have to make an NPC’s attack into some strange withering-decisive hybrid that most of the charm language involving withering or decisive attacks go out the window? That all the cool and neat powers a character may have been magically forgotten and replaced with a bland keyword called Might?

    Battlegroups have all the same thrill as fighting a faceless wall. A meaningless sack of numbers one needs to punch through. If the only difference between two types of opponents is a slightly different set of numbers then you need to make better opponents, something that’s extremely difficult to do with the current ruleset.

    Initiative Toilet

    You know that dynamic initiative system that 3e prides itself having on? The one I’ve seen hyped up by people over and over again? Well, what if we take that and flush it right down the toilet? That’s what happens with battlegroups. Fighting large battlegroups is an incredibly uphill and stacked battle in Ex3 that relives all the ‘wonderful’ experiences I had with rocket tag in Exalted 2e. Anytime you’re hit? You’re not getting that initiative back. You’d best be happy with the 1i you gain from hitting and the 5i from the break bonus. This is like literally playing 3e against someone who’s using 2e rules. If you don’t have any enemies nearby to farm initiative from then you’d best hope for some nearby opponents to farm for initiative or really hope that battlegroup you’re fighting is at low magnitude enough for an initiative break. This is compounded if there is another NPC fighting you alongside a battlegroup, as any initiative you may build up for a killing blow can be rapidly flushed down the shitter. Some may call these tactics, I call this bad design. Why? Because in Exalted 3e the intention for combat was that most combat losses are supposed to a series of bad choices and/or bad rolls. The current battle group seems to fish for a higher than average Order roll then essentially dominate in one sweep.

    It’s for these reasons I’m making this document. Plus it’s a low hanging fruit that easy to rework compared to the other bugbears I have with the system. I’m looking at you Sail and Soak.
    Last edited by Sandact6; 04-06-2021, 12:07 PM.

    Read my shit at my homebrew topic, 2.5e and 3e material!
    Play Alchemical's in 3e now, you're welcome.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
    -snip all that tedious formatting-

    Initiative Toilet
    The initiative sink was my biggest gripe with battle groups too. I always thought the easiest fix was simply to let people attacking the bg gain initiative as usual, even if the bg didn't lose init in the process.


    • #3
      Personally, I think there's merit to the 'Initative Toilet' when battle groups are basically pets for character with War (my biggest gripe with them is a silly little oversight that I'm kicking myself for not spotting during the playtest: where due to abstraction, battle groups don't offer any protection to their commanders unless all the soldiers are performing a Defend Other action) but where that take on them failed us miserably was when the battle group was the core of, if not the entirety of the encounter. Since you either have no leader and run a combat where initiative is a finite resource or you throw in a token "slightly bigger than the others" leader that multiple Exalts are incentivised to pounce on for initiative in a way that looks utterly ridiculous.

      So yeah, I'm going to to try this out in an encounter where the battle group is supposed to be the main threat instead of using the default system and see how my players deal with it.
      Last edited by Lioness; 04-02-2020, 09:14 AM.

      Sword of Creation a hub for Exalted related content


      • #4
        Originally posted by Marcob View Post

        The initiative sink was my biggest gripe with battle groups too. I always thought the easiest fix was simply to let people attacking the bg gain initiative as usual, even if the bg didn't lose init in the process.
        I tried this for a while, but I still had the other issues which were just as annoying to me.

        Read my shit at my homebrew topic, 2.5e and 3e material!
        Play Alchemical's in 3e now, you're welcome.


        • #5
          My biggest problem with battlegroups has been that the best way to deal with them is to launch an epic decisive attack/flurry, get a bunch of free damage from the decisive levels, and then stack on a few initiative breaks for knocking them down 2-3 points of magnitude so that you actually end up way ahead in initiative afterward.


          • #6
            I'm curious to why you decided to make Withering attacks deal magnitude damage when the Battle Group is crashed ?

            My homebrew (Leave comments if you want to help improve) : A quick recap of all the pools and stats for Quick Exalted 3E characters


            • #7
              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
              My biggest problem with battlegroups has been that the best way to deal with them is to launch an epic decisive attack/flurry, get a bunch of free damage from the decisive levels, and then stack on a few initiative breaks for knocking them down 2-3 points of magnitude so that you actually end up way ahead in initiative afterward.
              I'm going to assume you mean size, not magnitude.

              In my experience this is usually true. Hell thrown Supernal solars or hell any real battle monster might have some issues with battlegroups but nothing beyond their means. Archery and Awareness is especially known to vaporize them. If you're up against a size 1 or 2 battlegroup then yea the best tactic is to usually decisive them with a high join battle roll. Most exalts in the game would be able to destroy if not leave a battle group with any magnitude remaining.

              But after toying around with other splats I've come to realize this really isn't a thing shared amongst all the splats, hell not even all characters.. Secondly, as I mentioned, such things are overly lethal to characters not focused in combat. The difference is staggering, and I wanted to try and bring both ends closer together.

              Originally posted by Chausse View Post
              I'm curious to why you decided to make Withering attacks deal magnitude damage when the Battle Group is crashed ?
              In testing this made them far too durable. Note battlegroups here will have magnitude far in excess of their health levels, this made them take nearly forever to kill. A player recommended to do magnitude damage when crashed and it ended up working pretty well.

              Read my shit at my homebrew topic, 2.5e and 3e material!
              Play Alchemical's in 3e now, you're welcome.


              • #8
                What book are elephants in?

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


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                  What book are elephants in?
                  Hundred Devil Night Parade. They're quite impressively powerful, especially since they give stats for them with armor and weapons added to their tusks.


                  • #10
                    Upon reviewing part 2 of Heirs I see that Gunzosha are heavy armour. Let's say an elite warrior has a stamina of 4, meaning them wearing this armour gives them 15 soak at base, with a possible 20 at size 5.

                    My counter to this is if you can get a size 5 group of Gunzosha up and running then congratulations. You've overcome the sheer cost of making such a large amount of suits (somehow), convincing that many soldiers to drastically shorten whatever lifespans they may have, and fear not the risk possibly losing hundreds if an enemy manages to knock them down a point of size (Which, in an encounter that warrants this many, is likely gonna happen once).

                    Read my shit at my homebrew topic, 2.5e and 3e material!
                    Play Alchemical's in 3e now, you're welcome.