Champions in Battle

In battle, heroes are forged and reputations lost. It is highly likely that if champions attach themselves to the cause of a polis or a god, that they will be called up to fight in an army.

Role of Champions

In the ancient times of Homer and the old legends, battles could be decided by the combat of champions. Such actions finished quarrels before too much blood was shed. In this age of new heroes, the practice has returned. However, it is not an inviolable custom and neither side is obligated to offer or accept such terms. A side with a clearly victorious position would be unlikely to gamble away their certain victory. In terms of combat, a battle of champions works just like normal combat, though the environment will be bounded by the opposing armies and will be on the preferred battle ground of a hard flat featureless plain. Everyone should be aware that the players are fighting for the honour of their cause.

Should the armies meet in full scale battle the role the player’s characters will assume will depend greatly on the perceived status of the characters in the army and how well they can negotiated themselves to their preferred position. The following are good examples of where a player character might end up on the battlefield:

  • Common Hoplite - As every solider must provide their own equipment, to be here is no dishonour, but a player character here will have less influence on the outcome of the battle beyond holding the line.
  • On the Right or Front Row - These are the exposed positions on a phalanx and hence the most dangerous. Only experience troops are placed in these positions. Failing to hold the line here will cost the phalanx its formation.
  • Row Leader - In charge of one of the middle rows of a phalanx, the role is limited to maintaining order in that row.
  • Rear Rank Leader - In charge of the rear of the phalanx, a player character here will be expected to keep their phalanx in formation and pushing at the enemy
  • Phalanx Leader - In command of the phalanx as a whole and particularly the front row. Responsible for keeping the front row moving forward and attacking the enemy formation. They were always found on the front row and typically these were men with the highest status.
  • Strategos - The commander of the army, selected from and by the Phalanx leaders in the filed or appointed by the polis at the outset. The strategos was responsible for selection of the battlefield, offering any terms of battle to the opposition and tactics to be used. Once battle began they led their phalanx from the front. Story leaders should stress that issued commands in the midst of ancient Greek battle were highly unlikely to be acted upon as communication was near impossible.

Though it is the most prestigious position, a player character has other options. Should their status be very low, they would typically end up with the skirmishers, possibly leading that unit if they have some status. There is little direct combat here, as skirmishers rarely get close enough to the enemy. If a player character is wealthy enough, they can convert their status into a position amongst the cavalry. Like the skirmishers, cavalry are unlikely to see direct melee, but may find themselves chasing down skirmishers or engaged by the enemy’s horsemen. A player character in the skirmishers or cavalry would have to exceptional to be considered a candidate for Startegos.

The story leader should look towards making sure that the players are involved as much as possible during large battles. Ideally the players should be doing more than just fighting for own survival and should have the potential to influence the outcome of the battle. Placing them as subordinates in any of the units makes it difficult for them to do this. Splitting they party up between different units across the battlefield, will as always slow things down and should only be done with care.

Mass combat with its thousands of participants can quickly become complex and unwieldy for players and story leaders alike. To aid the group, the following suggestions are made. If the storyteller wishes to focus on just the players, perhaps leaving the result of the battle to external force and the requirements of the story then it is useful to consider only a very narrow part of the battlefield. The battle can be treated as a standard combat but with defined edges. In the press of a hoplite phalanx, there is little mobility, so the combat can be limited to just two soldiers on each side of the players and the enemy soldiers a spear’s distance away. The primary difference is that wounded enemies and allies are immediately replaced by soldiers from further back in phalanx. The primary goal is to break the enemy’s formation, causing them to flee. Once the majority of the spears have been broken, the gap between the lines will close, swords are drawn and the pushing contest begins. This method of focusing on the player’s local area is useful if they are in combat with the enemy, but not advantageous if the players are in the rear ranks or far from the enemy.

Modelling Armies in 6d6 Hellenic

If the storyteller wishes to give the players influence over how the battle resolves and want that the issue to remain in doubt, then one solution is to model the army as any other 6d6 NPC, using cards. An army deck consists of six possible cards, representing different facets of the army.

  • Morale - The mood of the troops and their confidence.
  • Equipment - The quality of the armour and weapons of the army.
  • Numbers - How much the army outnumbers the enemy.
  • Discipline - The willpower of the troops and how well they maintain formation
  • Leadership - How well the troops are led by their superiors
  • Energy- The freshness of the troops.

On the subject of numbers, the card doesn’t represent how many are in the army, more the relative sizes of the army. With the preferred tactics of the ancient Greeks it is difficult to convert numerical superiority into outright victory. With only a small number of troops actually on the front line fighting, numbers come into play most when the pushing begins.

The table below gives descriptions of how values of each cards can be interpreted. The card values use the same progression as for all other cards in 6d6. This table can be used by a story leader to represent the quality of each army, rather one developed using a points spend.

Value Morale Equipment Numbers Discipline Leadership Energy
Mundane Weak Under equipped Outnumbered Disordered Unled Exhausted
d6 Holding Disposable Evenly matched Low Unfamiliar Fatigued
d6+1 Determined Reliable A few more Controlled Poor Tiring
d6+2 Strong Decent Several more Calm Familiar Stale
d6+3 Valiant Good Some more Drilled Adapted Fresh
d6+4 Courageous Superior Many More Solid Versed Bouncy
d6+5 Inspired Excellent Lots more Strict Capable Energetic
d6+6 Fearless Unbreaking Overwhelmingly More Selfless Skilled Unflagging

Army combat follows the same rules as character combat. As battle between armies typically last an hour, the suggested length for a turn in army combat is 6 minutes rather than 6 seconds. If a player character is leading the army, then selection of the relevant cards is done by that player, else it is left to the story leader to play the army cards and roll the dice. The quickest way to present the army deck is to use the template NPC deck, an example of which is shown at the end of the section.

For the purpose of modelling life points, each of the army cards is a life card. The damage an army takes is determined as par the standard rules. However, in a rare exception to rules, these life cards degrade in value, rather than be discarded entirely. As the cards degrade, their value is adjusted to match. Which card suffers the damage should be relevant to the action that caused the damage. In example, Hagnon of Sparta orders his army to attack the Athenian by pushing them back. After the dice rolls, Hagnon’s Spartans have beaten the Athenians back by 4. Narratively this translates to the Spartans pushing the Athenians back. Numerically it translates to 4 points of damage to the Athenian energy card. If the card was a d6 + 3 its value has been reduced from 10 to 6, making it now worth d6 + 1. Once an army’s cards have all been reduced to being mundane, it will rout and flee the battlefield.

All is not lost though, for if the players are in the position to, they can alter the course of the battle. While they cannot get new equipment or reinforcements to the battle easily, nor give the troops more energy; they can rebuild morale, leadership and discipline, encouraging the troops to hold the line and fight on. And of course, the players can make attempts to weaken the enemy’s army cards.

The naval battlefield is more dynamic than the land battlefield. A story leader should keep in mind the shifting nature of two fleets of ships engaged in ramming and boarding actions. Unlike a nice piece of flat plain, a boat is a moving surface and there is the additional hazard of falling in the water. Story leaders are encouraged to make use of the sea state and the weather.

The roles available to a player are thus:

  • Oarsman - A very low status position with little to do other than row when ordered
  • Marine - A soldier or skirmisher on the upper deck. No direct responsibilities other that attacking the enemy, either by boarding actions or repelling boarders
  • Senior Sailor - The person on board who actually know how to sail a ship. Responsible for taking the boat where the captain orders.
  • Ship Captain - A high status appointment handed based on status rather than ship handling ability. Responsible for the actions of his ship.
  • Navarch - The fleet commander, responsible for the tactics to be used and the selection of the battle location. Selected from the ships captains either by them or by the polis. Once battle began they led their flagship from the front. Story leaders should stress that issued commands in the midst of ancient Greek battle were highly unlikely to be acted upon as communication was near impossible.

Combat involving the player characters directly can be simply defined as the deck areas of the ship they’re currently on. The army deck works just as well for modelling to opposing fleets, with the equipment card also referring to the quality of the ships themselves.

<deck format="monster" > Example Army Deck



James Foster, 2012/08/31 19:01

May need cards for ship to ship combat?

Mark Foster, 2013/09/23 19:15

change name of section “Modelling Wars and Large Battles”

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open/settings/6d6hellenic/waradvice.txt · Last modified: 2013/12/09 19:48 by cyancqueak
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