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Thread: How many tribesmen to save the princess?

  1. #1
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    Smile How many tribesmen to save the princess?

    End of last session: Elven sword-singer princess is alone in the desert and has just been chased down by 24 orcs. Meanwhile, our other Elven sword-singer has been incapacitated by 7 goblins and a large orc is standing over him with a 2-handed sword about to strike. Our mage/ assassin is dressed only in leather armour and about shoot it with Bow B4.

    This is the outcome of a failed hunting test. Our GM sure believes in penalties for failure! (This is great as it really lifts play and makes victory all the sweeter).

    Background: Set in the world of Greyhawk. Newbies to BW, with 5 sessions complete. Elf PCs start at 4LP, Human PCs start at 5LP. I missed the last session and my character Jobe (born noble - arcane devotee - sorcerer - rogue wizard - rogue wizard) is back at camp with Peoni (2LP human with grey spirit binding, a support character for Atalante the Elven princess). They are in the Bright Desert.

    Jobe's B&Is: B1: I will reach an agreement with Helika (mage/assassin) to pursue Joachim (possessed brother, inimical relationship), B2: I will enlist tribesmen to help save Atalante, B3: Melee combat with spells sucks so I will find a mace, I1: Always maintain Turn Aside the Blade, I2: Always maintain Second Sight, I3: Collect samples for antecedents.

    So, what I want to do is save the princess in a blaze of glory .... literally ... by cresting a low rise, with a band of mounted tribesmen and Mage Light on, just at the crucial moment.

    My plan is this: Peoni and Jobe start their action 15 minutes after the others have left camp. Jobe is concerned about the coming apocalypse and will likely Ugly Truth Peoni into checking with local spirits on whether dangers walk the desert this night. Circles up me some tribesmen (with relevant affiliation and reputation), a big Oratory roll with FoRKs, probably Riding and Tactics to crest the rise (spirits having guided us here) and casting massive Mage Light.

    Question: How many tribesmen would be needed? Assuming they have Spear B4, Sword B4 and Mounted Combat Training? Mage Light seems much more useful than White Fire since it's leveraged across the tribesmen and also Atalante. My gut feel is to think in terms of partial differential equations but I don't think BW mass combat works that way. For example, 8 tribesmen charging downhill (+1D?) with spears (+1D, +1Po, +1VA) with the orcs at +2Ob to defensive actions or to attack (due to Mage Light and Cold Black Blood), sounds like 7-8 orcs down and 0-1 tribesmen down. The orc armour won't withstand the spears. The tribesmen wheel and draw scimitars (+2D) ...

    The look is Gandalf, the White Rider charging downhill with Rohirrim... But how many would he need?

  2. #2
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    You don't need exact numbers for crunchy tactical combat. You need a number that feels right. It's all by Obs anyway; the number is just for descriptive purposes.

    Don't think in terms of the numbers used in Fight; you're not waging a Fight with dozens of combatants. That's a terrible idea. What you're going to have is a few tests at key moments. Oratory to rile them up, Riding to get there, Tactics to make a sound plan, those are all good ideas. You'll probably need to swing a weapon in the fray (that's a Sword or Spear or whatever test), Command the tribesmen to keep them in line in the fray, and then you can find other good tests to throw out. Five or six tests for one encounter is a fine number.

    It's not really about how skilled or well-equipped or numerous the tribesmen are; that's not what BW is about. It's about how good your character is at getting them to join him and using them as a fighting force. What are you willing to do to make that happen? How much does it cost you?

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    That's great. Thanks for the advice Wayfarer. Cheers!

  4. #4
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    And BW encourages the battle to be a backdrop for personal choices and encounters for the PCs. The orcs can win the battle, for instance, but perhaps in a 1-1 Fight with their Boss, the PC wins, leaving the orcs leaderless, allowing an escape. Here's my breakdown of the battle at the Wall in Games of Thrones from last season. It does a good job of showing how awesome it would've been as a BW battle: https://www.burningwheel.com/forum/s...t=game+thrones
    The thoughts and opinions reflected in my posts are not necessarily those of The Burning Wheel. If I am not quoting exact text and giving you a page for reference, please add "I BELIEVE" to the beginning of every single sentence I ever write ever.

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