D&D 5E World Building: Army building


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Some times I imagine WotC with a computer battle simulation to know if warlords should buy magic item or hiring a monster mercenary.

I imagine magic used to create a motor, and this would reload crossbows.

And the warlord would be a martial adept class focused into the school of the white raven.
 


nevin

Hero
World Building Question 2 Army building

So I asked for general DM advise, because hello I am new to Dming. However I would like to start a series of specific posts asking about different parts of world building. This isn't a plus thread per say, but if you think I should not world build that is not very helpful.
Also Warning, I ramble when I am excited even in text.


(if you want to see part 1 https://www.enworld.org/threads/world-building-commerce-and-gold.698360/)

Okay, so wind up to question 2: Soldiers and War

When your games involve wars and kingdoms forces how do you build them?

I have seen DMs build full PCs like fighters Rangers Wizards ect. And then fill them out after that with NPC stats from the MM. I have also seen DMs just take monster or NPC stats.

My personal thought is based on something I found here online. Take the NPC or Monster stats and add 1 or 2 class like features.

However I then worry when is too much too much? Like if I take guards and knights and other NPC stats and add human or elf or dwarf to them, then give them action surge and second wind that sounds like a cool "champion" or "commander" but I would not want a legion of 100 of those (tracking those action surges would be a nightmare).

Then because for my world I am using a lot of Divine magic I started to think about spell slots. I wonder if there is a good way to limit those.

As I am typing this I wonder how much can be hand waved. Like I can call an army of paladins an army of paladins the players don't need to know if they have smite or lay on hands unless they are part of an encounter, and at least at low level those encounters need to be small or it will TPK.

Then I am wondering, do I just story point who wins if I have 2 NPC armies fight, or should I 'roll it out' in between games to be able to tell the players it was 'fair'

I also have seen many times here and elsewhere online that enough commoners can take down a dragon. How much do I need to worry about army sizes?

If I want to throw numbers around as intelligence about 1 feudal lord or another what are sane numbers? Like if someone owns 3 towns and 2 castle/keeps and a bunch of farm land and the DM told me they can field 200,000 troops I would be highly skeptical, but if they have 20,000 is that too much? What about 10,000?

How does caster change this? Like If 1 lord can field 5,000 spear men and 2,000 archers with 500 light cavalry and a dozen siege weapons, but there enemy can bring 400 spear men, 100 archers, 50 light cavalry and 60 level 5+ wizards and 100 level 3-4 wizards and that side has 30 clerics/healers it seems like the casters are a major force multiplier.

Also monsters. Like if one side has ogres and the other side has goblins that skews things too.
WRONG..... By DND rules a world full of commoners can't take down a Dragon. Unless they all have magic weapons and even then most of them die.

DND is'nt a combat simulator for mass battles. don't try. I have it's painful. I've even tried doing miniature combat rules and letting the parties build up thier armies and playing it out a as mini game. Booooooring and random luck can suck ass for your story. the best way is for the hero's and what they do in the battle to "Swing the tide" or "sink the ship"

Don't limit magic if it's not limited in your game. That's just going to piss off your players and start arguments you can't win effectively.
Remember divine magic and arcane magic in thier current forms in 5e are very limited compared to 1e. one fireball only covers a small area regardless of how much damage it does. Sure a 15th level mage can blow all thier slots and hollow out a small armies attack but then what.? Battles last hours, weeks or more.

200,000 men in an army is approaching Rome attacking Carthage. Rome had a little over 300,000 men and Carthage had 170.000 men. That is HUUUUUUUUUUGE. That attacking 3 keeps is like Rome attacking some rural town. Strategically the answer is RUN take what you can burn everything else so the army can't feed off of your stores, hide and pick away at the legion and try to starve them out because an army that big can't survive for long without supplies. Most people don't known that Julius Cesar almost lost to the Celts who burned everything at every retreat. the only reason he won is they got scared and instead of burning thier last town and winter supplies they holed up for the winter in one town and Rome brought in the Germans to help break them. If the Celts had burned thier grain the legion would have had to retreat or starve and Cesar would never have been emperor after losing.

but yes magic is a multiplyer but not as much as you think. It's great in Gorrilla style defensive tactics but not as useful in a full scale battle. Seige Engines are cheaper, and more reliable than casters. Clerics healing trumps anything else they could do. throw up a wall siege weapon will take most out in one or two hits. fireball's and most damage spells are great for hero's but small area's surprisingly move earth is better than most other abilities if you have time to shape the battlefield and can control when and where it happens.

Caster's are bigger multipliers for skirmishers who have smaller numbers and get to pick the location of the fight. Mainly because they are more mobile and more flexible than towing seige engines with your cavalry.

War doesn't change because of magic. just think of magic as you would advanced weapons. An M203 greneade launcher is just a fireball. A cleric is just a medic unless he's got 6th level or higher spells. Mages just turn into magical repair and emergency firepower. think of them as engineers.
 

okay this is interesting, part of the fun in my mind is the players interacting with what you built
The danger is, this can lead to pushing your players to do something that will bring them into contact with your worldbuilding, rather than letting them make their own choices.

Characters only see a tiny fraction of the world.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
It depends on the kind of game you're running. I've run games where the PCs are commandos doing special missions behind enemy lines, but then the entire game is very focused on the war. Even then, my players don't want to participate in mass combat activities - that's wargaming and not roleplaying, but some people want that experience and past D&D's Battle System was little used attempt at bridging the two. I tried it long ago, and we never tried it more than one instance.

When world building, I might decide this particular kingdom, due to fertile farmlands a protected port on the sea, a fortified bridge placed at a border crossing - it has the wealth and advantages to have either a large cavalry force and/or an established navy making it the dominant military force in a given region. The geography helps determine the kind of forces a given kingdom sponsors. In the forested, interior river lands, smaller bands of river marine forces are the norm rather than mounted or large units. Knowing this provides what kind of potential military encounters the party will witness within a given region. Unless the campaign or player intentions are to participate in a war - like many above, I just hand-wave it.
 

WRONG..... By DND rules a world full of commoners can't take down a Dragon. Unless they all have magic weapons and even then most of them die.
okay calm down that is a bit aggressive. I said I heard that not that I knew it to be a fact.
DND is'nt a combat simulator for mass battles. don't try. I have it's painful. I've even tried doing miniature combat rules and letting the parties build up thier armies and playing it out a as mini game. Booooooring and random luck can suck ass for your story. the bet way is for the hero's and what they do in the battle to "Swing the tide" or "sink the ship"
yeah that seems to be how I am leaning
Don't limit magic if it's not limited in your game. That's just going to piss off your players and start arguments you can't win effectively.
Remember divine magic and arcane magic in thier current forms in 5e are very limited compared to 1e.
I don't know I started in 5e I really only know 5e.
one fireball only covers a small area regardless of how much damage it does. Sure a 15th level mage can blow all thier slots and hollow out a small armies attack but then what.? Battles last hours, weeks or more.
do battles last weeks or campaigns (war campaigns not D&D ones) like each battle really going to stretch like that?
but yes magic is a multiplyer but not as much as you think. It's great in Gorrilla style defensive tactics but not as useful in a full scale battle. Seige Engines are cheaper, and more reliable than casters.
where are you getting prices to hire or train spellcasters? are they really cheaper to build big hard to move seige engines or to train someone that could turn into a swiss army win buttons
War doesn't change because of magic. just think of magic as you would advanced weapons. An M203 greneade launcher is just a fireball. A cleric is just a medic unless he's got 6th level or higher spells. Mages just turn into magical repair and emergency firepower. think of them as engineers.
 

Oofta

Legend
When I've done campaigns that involved wars, the PCs are special strike forces and rarely involved in front line direct combat. A fireball is great, but you only have a handful even at the highest level. Yes, it's going to do some damage but not really any more than a well organized arrow volley. Unlike that arrow volley, the enemy can pinpoint where the spell came from since the caster has to be in a spot that is at least somewhat exposed in order to target the spell. Getting involved in mass combat seems like a great way for a wizard to commit suicide by enemy army. Might be useful now and then but in the grand scheme of things? Doesn't matter as much as some people think IMHO.

For example meteor swarm is great, but even after level 17 when you get it, it's still once a day. When a large army is 30,000-40,000, a couple of fireballs isn't going to matter. Even smaller battles with just a few hundred men (fairly typical because of supply issues) it really can't make that much of a difference.

But the PCs can still contribute by disrupting enemy supply lines, confronting the enemy's special units, infiltrating enemy command, etc.. The enemy recruiting a cohort of giants to supplement their forces? Guess who gets to go behind enemy lines and take the giants out. The PCs are Seal Team 6 going in to do special raids or take out specific enemies, not part of battalion #223. Enemy combatants typically use NPCs from the MM, with

The PC success or failure (and degree) can have an impact on the overall war effort, but other than that I just kind of hand-wave all of that stuff. Set up missions with minimum and stretch goals, the more stretch goals they achieve the better it is for their team. There should also be times when it is obvious they need to run.

On a related note, I don't care if you're a high level fighter. Throw enough soldiers and the soldiers will win eventually. Have some of the soldiers grapple, do a dog pile, aid others, separate the PCs and surround them with two ranks of soldiers attacking with the second rank using halberds. Do whatever it takes. After several minutes of nonstop fighting exhaustion will start to settle in. If it ever comes up (it hasn't in my game for this) I'd use the mob rules found in the DMG, basically figure that even if it takes a 20 to hit an enemy, if you have 20 attackers one is going to hit every round. Unless you're using cleave rules, the fighter can only take out a handful of enemies per round. They'll be standing on top of a pile of bodies by the end, but they will eventually fall.

Last, but not least, there have been several attempts to come up with mass combat rules that directly involve PCs over the years. It's never really materialized, even Dragonlance has a separate board game for mass combat, because it just doesn't really work with the design of D&D.
 

The danger is, this can lead to pushing your players to do something that will bring them into contact with your worldbuilding, rather than letting them make their own choices.
I assume the players will make characters for inside the world I build? I have never really tried to leave the world we are playing in.
 

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