Warfare Rules in Zahaani
(Helpful link: Google sheets document for Warfare)
Rules for mass combat (warfare) in D&D are oftentimes too simple and boring to excite players and keep the fight believable. That is because while there are plenty of good, realistic and exciting war games out there, they are complex to play, and D&D 5e is already filled with rules. It is hard enough to keep track of everything the game and your eager GM throw at you already.
However, I love the idea of making warfare interesting, so I have spent a long time to figure out something that I like, which is simple enough for the players yet also exciting and interactive. I have adapted the rules from MCDM’s “Kingdoms & Warfare” 5e supplement to fit Zahaani and my own standards.
This is a sample unit card and a sample battlefield. Our units will probably not look as beautiful: a lot more black and white and makeshift. The battlefield is an abstract map. Each rectangular tile fits a unit, and both sides of the battle deploy on their half of the battle. Units can move from tile to tile and attack each other. If entire row ends up empty, it “collapses” and is no longer used during the battle, narrowing the field as the battle progresses. Let’s go through the sample unit’s anatomy. It has 6 main statistics. ATK (attack), DEF (defense), POW (power), TOU (toughness), MOR (morale) and COM (command).
Attack & Defense: when a unit attacks another unit, they make an attack test, a d20 + their attack modifier. The target of this test is the Defense score of the enemy. To hit this sample unit, you would need to score at least 12 on your attack test. If the Attack test succeeds, the unit inflicts 1 damage to the enemy, and then the unit may make a Power test. Attack and Defense represent the unit’s training and skill. They are increased with Experience. Most units can make only 1 attack when they are activated (explained later): the number of attacks a unit can make is listed on the sword on the left side of the unit card. This unit can make 1 attack per activation.
Power & Toughness: after succeeding on an Attack test, the unit makes a Power test opposed by the enemy’s Toughness. If it succeeds on the Power test, the unit inflicts damage equal to the number listed in the bottom left (DMG), in this case, 1. Power & Toughness represent a unit’s natural strength or their armour and weapons. They are increased with Equipment.
Morale: to resist certain enemy effects and to prevent the unit from running away (routing) when they take too many casualties, units sometimes need to succeed on a Morale test. Morale represents the fortitude and motivation of the unit. It is increased with Experience.
Command: to use certain special Traits and execute Maneuvers, units sometimes need to succeed on a Command test. Command represents the aptitude of the officers in the unit and how well the unit is organised. It is increased with Experience.
As explained in the bulleted list, the number 1 on the sword on the left is the number of attacks a unit can make per turn. The number 1 below that (DMG) is the damage they deal when succeeding on a Power test (The damage when succeeding on just the Attack test is always 1). The number 6 in the top right (Size) is the equivalent of hit points. This unit can take 6 damage or casualties (same thing) before it is taken off the battlefield.
The Roman numeral 1 in the bottom right is the unit’s Tier. Tiers go from I to V (1-5) and describe the overall strength of the unit, but has no impact on gameplay. I am not yet sure if I will use Tier at all.
Closer to the top, “Commander” lists the Player Character who controls the unit (or an NPC follower). “Regular” is the level of Experience, “Light” is the level of Equipment, “Human” is the Ancestry, “Infantry” is the unit’s Type.
Finally, “Traits” show the various special abilities of the unit. Some traits are determined by Ancestry. For instance, all humans have the Adaptable trait. Others can be learned, and can be trained. Some traits are magical, require special equipment, or rituals to complete.
Experience is a combination of how much train ing a unit has and how much fighting it’s seen. More experienced units gain bonuses to Attack, Defense, Morale, and Command, as well as additional attacks, as indicated on the Unit Experience Bonuses table. But different types of units learn different lessons in battle. Units gain experience from winning battles, according to how experienced they already are. The least experienced units are Green, then Regular after surviving 1 battle. After 2 additional battles (3 total), they become Veteran. After at least 3 further battles, Elite, and 4 additional ones, Super-Elite, but this may take more or less battles depending on the pace of the campaign and frequency of battles.
Equipment describes a unit’s arms and armor. Heavier units have better weapons and armor, granting them bonuses to Power, Toughness, and Damage (except for artillery units), but they might not be as flexible in battle as a lighter, more mobile unit. As with experience, different types of units gain different benefits from improving their equipment. Units improve their equipment by having their leaders pay for those improvements. Units go from Light to Medium, Heavy and Super-Heavy.
Ancestry affects all of a unit’s stats, and in many ways is the defining attribute of a unit. Ancestry also determines what traits a unit has. The bonuses a unit gains because of its ancestry have very little to do with any of the stats that creatures of those ancestries have in the core rules. The warfare rules are concerned with how well creatures organize, take orders, and maintain morale and unit cohesion, none of which are necessarily related to how well creatures fight in single combat.
Type determines what a unit can do in battle, who it can attack, and who it can be attacked by. There are four types of basic unit: infantry, artillery (including siege weapons), cavalry, and aerial. Levies and siege weapons are subtypes. For the purpose of improving experience and equipment (see below), cavalry and aerial units use the same tables.
Types in Zahaani: because Zahaani is not a typical D&D medieval-esque setting but has – in some areas – advanced firearms and artillery. Typical gun-wielding “infantry of the line” is infantry in this system, and cannons are the most common form of artillery in Aubury. Archers are still around, but they are less common and typically weaker. However, some parts of Zahaani, such as Arrant are less technologically advanced, so if there ever were any cross-over, it would be necessary to adapt the units going from one paradigm to the other.
Infantry are the meat-and-potatoes troops for any domain. They are not as flashy as artillery or cavalry, but they are harder to kill, having higher Toughness than other units of the same tier and ancestry. Infantry are often used to protect artillery units. Infantry have very few legal targets in a battle. They can attack only adjacent units (in front, behind, to the left, or to the right of the infantry unit), and can’t attack cavalry or aerial units at all. But infantry also have access to more maneuvers than other units. Only infantry units can use the Follow Up maneuver, which gives them free movement after an adjacent opposed unit breaks or moves away from them. This helps infantry quickly move into position to get closer to the opposed side’s center rank—where all the squishy artillery is usually hiding!
Infantry can also make use of the Set for Charge maneuver, which gives them a chance of inflicting casualties on any cavalry or aerial unit that attacks them. They cannot attack those more mobile units back, but they are not completely defenseless against them.
Levies: Infantry also includes levies—the untrained troops who have either volunteered to support a domain or been pressed into service. Levies are cheaper than other Tier I units, with officers able to muster two units of levies instead of any other Tier I unit. But they have poor stats compared to other infantry units, and those stats cannot be improved. Levies disband after every battle. The best use of levies is to defend an army’s rear rank against enemy cavalry. They often won’t last long, but they’ll force an opponent to waste actions wearing them down.
Artillery units include both archers and siege engines. As said but there before, in Zahaani cannons are common, but there is still a difference between field artillery and siege artillery, so not every cannon unit is technically a siege unit – though all are able to attack fortifications.
Artillery units can attack any other unit on the field, which means they’re a domain’s best defense against enemy aerial units. Those are thankfully rare, but artillery’s ability to pick targets from across the battlefield makes them incredibly good at two things—forcing Morale tests by diminishing opposed units, and breaking opposed units that have only 1 casualty remaining, regardless of where those units are. Additionally, artillery and cavalry can be coordinated to pick out a single enemy cavalry unit and wear it down, since artillery and cavalry can attack any cavalry unit. Many battles begin with both sides using artillery and cavalry in this way, trying to eliminate opposing cavalry before they can go on the offensive.
The downside, of course, is that artillery is incredibly squishy. They have low Defense and Toughness compared to other troops of the same tier and ancestry. For this reason, they must be deployed in the center rank of the battlefield, and a large part of the strategy of an army’s officers typically involves keeping their artillery alive.
Siege Engines: These can attack any other units and inflict a lot of casualties—but most require an entire round between attacks doing nothing (loading the catapult or trebuchet , winding the ballista the big cannons, and so forth). Combined with the fact that they automatically hit attacks against fortifications, siege engines are typically only mustered when an army is fighting an opposing force with fortifications, and are then used to batter down those walls and towers.
Cavalry units move fast and hit hard. They are so mobile that they belong to no specific rank, ranging across the battlefield to attack other cavalry, and pick off those infantry and artillery units foolish enough to leave themselves exposed.
Cavalry units have greater Power than other units of the same tier and ancestry, and they’re one of the few Tier I units that deal 2 damage on a successful Power test. This means they can cause most Tier I units to become diminished with a single successful attack—a size 6 unit taking 1 casualty from a successful Attack test, and then 2 more casualties from a successful Power test!
Many battles begin with both sides trying to neutralize the other’s cavalry. Artillery is particularly good at this.
Flying units are rare, with most of them in Tier III and having stats comparable to an average Tier II unit. This is because aerial units can attack any other unit (in the same manner as artillery units) but very few units can return fire against them! Only artillery and other aerial units can attack an aerial unit.
Mustering aerial units gives a domain a major advantage over an opposed domain that has no aerial units with which to defend itself. But while they have clear advantages in battle, aerial units are squishy. They have higher Attack modifiers than other units of the same tier and ancestry, but their need to be lightly armed and armored compared to other units gives them lower Defense and Toughness.
Properly used, aerial units can make a big difference in a battle, but they do not represent instant victory. Rather, much of their usefulness is psychological. An army without aerial units facing an army with aerial units often feels as though it’s on the defensive, even if it enough artillery to handle the situation.
The battlefield is a grid five spaces wide, divided into two sections for the two opposing forces in a battle. Each section is four rows deep, with each row called a rank. The topmost row in each section is the vanguard, which faces the opposed army. Behind the vanguard is an army’s reserve rank, followed by the center rank, followed by the rear. In addition to these four ranks, each side also has a front, which comprises the vanguard plus all enemy ranks. If a unit controlled by an army moves from their army’s vanguard into the opposing side’s vanguard, or even all the way into the opposing side’s rear rank, they are still in the controlling army’s front. With the exception of the reserve rank (see Stacking below), a space can only hold one unit.
At the start of a battle, all officers commanding units roll initative. After initiative is determined for a battle, each character and NPC acting as a commander deploys their units in reverse initiative order. In other words, whoever acts last in the combat gets to place all their units first in the battle. If we are playing a battle alongside combat, we use the same initiative order for both.
Casualty Dice: During deployment, each unit commander places a die on every unit they control. This is the casualty die representing the number of casualties the unit can suffer before it breaks. The number of casualties the unit has remaining should be facing up. So a size 6 unit would begin with a d6 casualty die, with the 6 facing up. Some features can increase the size of a unit’s casualty die. Increasing a casualty die means upgrading from a d4 to a d6, a d6 to a d8, and so forth. Decreasing a casualty die means downgrading in the same way.
As a unit suffers casualties, its casualty die is decremented. This means the number on the die is decreased by 1, so that a 6 becomes a 5, a5 becomes a 4, and so forth. Under certain circumstances, the die is incremented—increased by 1—to indicate that a unit’s combat readiness is being restored. A unit that has its casualty die decremented from 1, indicating that it has lost its last casualty, is broken and removed from the field.
Unless otherwise noted, no unit can gain casualties beyond the maximum value on its casualty die. Once all units are placed, battle can begin. During battle, units are activated by the characters and NPCs controlling them in initiative order.
Collapsing Ranks: At the start of any turn (including the first), if a rank contains no units or fortifications (see below), that rank collapses and is no longer part of the battlefield. The ranks in front of and behind the collapsed rank are now next to each other.
When deploying units, artillery must go in the center rank. Infantry can be deployed in the vanguard, center, reserve, or rear ranks. Cavalry is placed on either the left or the right flank. Aerial units are not placed in any rank, but can move freely above the battlefield.
Stacking Units: Units in the reserve rank can be stacked when deployed. When units are stacked, only the top unit can be targeted. Units under a stack are treated as though they were not on the battlefield for the purpose of being subject to attacks or effects. Only the top unit of a group of stacked units can be activated. If that unit leaves the stack, the unit beneath it is now on top of the stack and can be targeted. Because a unit can’t move into a space occupied by other units, units can only leave a stack during a battle, they can’t enter one.
Cavalry: Cavalry units have to be placed to the left or right flank of the battlefield. If there is no opposed cavalry on their flank of the battlefield, they can freely move to the other flank.
On each commander’s turn (whether that commander is a player character or an NPC controlled by the GM), they activate all the units they control in any order. Each unit must finish its activation before another unit can be activated. Each unit can take (1) an action, (2) a bonus action, (3) a reaction and (4) a move, in either order. The things a unit can undertake during as an action include the following:
Attack another unit
Move 1 space
Use battle magic
Attempt a maneuver
Hold (do nothing)
Unless a unit does nothing, a unit can move and attack (as action), attack (as action) and move, or move (as action) and move (called a march), within the same activation. If a unit gets multiple attacks, it makes those attacks as one action. If it has access to multiple actions, perhaps as a result of maneuvers or unit traits, it must choose which action to use on its activation.
A unit can use a bonus action only if some trait or other feature grants it a bonus action. A bonus action is used on the unit’s activation, either before or after it attacks or moves. If a unit gets multiple bonus actions from traits or features, it must choose which one to use on its activation.
If a unit has a reaction, it can use that reaction during its own activation or on another unit’s activation. Once a unit uses a reaction, it cannot use another one until its next activation. If the reaction interrupts another unit’s activation, that unit can continue its activation after the reaction resolves.
Multiple Reactions: When resolving multiple reactions between units, the defending unit gets the first chance to resolve a reaction. Then the attacking unit can use its reaction, followed by the defending unit’s allies, then the attacking unit’s allies.
When a unit attacks, its choice of targets is determined by its unit type. The units of both sides are able to attack as follows:
Infantry units can attack any adjacent unit—one in front, behind, to the left, or to the right. They cannot attack diagonally.
Aerial units can attack any unit.
Cavalry units can attack other cavalry units and any infantry or artillery units that are exposed on their flank (see Exposed and Unit Conditions). If there are no opposed cavalry units remaining on their flank, they can also attack units that are exposed on the other flank.
Artillery can attack any unit, and cannons & other siege engines can attack fortifications.
Some units, typically infantry in the rear rank, might have no opposed units that are legal targets. (Units can attack allied units if compelled to do so by some effect, or just for fun.) With a legal target selected, an attacking unit makes an Attack test against the target’s Defense. If the Attack test succeeds, the attacking unit inflicts 1 casualty on its target and then makes a Power test against the target’s Toughness. If the Power test succeeds, the attacking unit inflicts additional casualties equal to the unit’s noted damage. The attacks of artillery units are ranged attacks. The attacks of infantry, cavalry, and aerial units are melee attacks, unless mentioned otherwise.
When a unit moves, it must move into an empty adjacent space—a space in front, behind, to the left, or to the right of its current space. Units cannot move diagonally. Units that have movement greater than 1 can move into successive empty spaces. A unit can move through other units only if it has a special feature that says so.
Though the front ranks of both sides in a battle are usually separated a little to make it easier to tell one side from another, units in one front can move into the opposing side’s front if there is an empty space there. Units can then move normally through the opposing side’s ranks as long as there are empty adjacent spaces for them to move into.
If a unit is in the rear rank of its army and moves backward, it is permanently removed from the battle.
Cavalry & Aerial Movement: Cavalry and aerial units do not normally move on the map. Cavalry needs to use its move to go from one flank to the other. However, sometimes the cavalry is needed on the map, to hold an important space or for some other reason. While this takes away some of their most powerful features, cavalry and aerial units can use their move to go onto an empty space on the map. After doing so, they function as an infantry unit in terms of who they can attack, until they leave the map again. Cavalry can only enter and leave the map if there is an unobstructed path via the friendly side of the battlefield of empty space between their current flank and their target space. Once on the map, cavalry and aerial units gain a +1 to movement.
Bonus Movement: A unit might gain “+1 to movement,” which means the unit moves 1 extra space both when it moves and if it uses its action to move. (Which is to say, if it marches, it moves 2 extra spaces.)
A unit might suffer a penalty to movement (indicated by “?1 to movement”). If a unit with the normal speed of 1 and no bonuses to movement suffers a ?1 movement penalty, it cannot move or march.
A unit is exposed if there are no units between it and the edge of the battlefield, leaving it open to attacks by cavalry units on their flank. By definition, all units in the rear are always exposed, but units in the rear can only be attacked by enemy cavalry on a flank with no cavalry of your own remaining to stop them. Units in the leftmost and rightmost columns of the battlefield are also exposed, except in the center and reserve ranks. Units in the center and reserve of an army’s ranks cannot be exposed as long as that army has units in both its rear rank and anywhere in its front. As soon as either of those conditions is no longer true, units in the center or reserve can become exposed.
Forward, Back & Opposite
If the rules ever refer to a unit moving forward or back, those directions are relative to the unit’s rear rank. Forward is moving away from the rear and back is moving toward the rear. Some rules refer to the unit opposite a target. This means the unit on the other side of the target from the attacker.
When a unit is subject to magic or specific events, the rules sometimes call for that unit to succeed on a Morale test. This includes such events as a unit being diminished, when it must succeed on a DC 13 Morale test or suffer 1 casualty. Likewise, whenever a unit is affected by an opposed unit’s battle magic, in addition to resolving the other effects of the magic, that unit must succeed on a DC 13 Morale test or suffer 1 casualty.
Unless otherwise stated, the DC for any Morale test is 13.
Some unit traits and magic items can put tokens on units, with the trait or item description noting what effect the tokens create. When a unit with tokens on it activates, it immediately suffers the effect of the tokens, then removes one token. (If a unit has more than one type of token on it, it suffers the effect of each type, then removes one token from each type.) If a token inflicts damage, the unit takes damage for each token on it.
For example, a unit targeted by another unit with the Flaming Weapons trait and in a space containing an acid pool might have two fire tokens and one acid token on it at the beginning of its activation. It suffers 3 damage (1 for each fire token and 1 for the acid token), then removes one fire token and one acid token.
Diminished, Broken, and Disbanded
A unit is diminished when its current casualties are half or less than its starting casualties. The first time a unit becomes diminished, it must succeed on a DC 13 Morale test or suffer another casualty. Each unit does this only once per battle.
A unit is broken and removed from the battle after it suffers its last casualty. This does not mean that every soldier in the unit is dead, but those who survive are left confused, panicked, squabbling—or might simply have fled. Broken units can be reformed with the Rally maneuver and certain martial advantages.
If a unit breaks and later fails a Morale test to rally, it is disbanded. (Certain martial advantages and other effects can also cause a unit to disband.) A disbanded unit is permanently destroyed. It is removed from the battle and cannot be rallied or reformed by normal means.
Defeat & After the Battle
While an entire army can be annihilated completely, this is rare. Commanders are wise to preserve their troops and retreat before it is too late. At the end of a round, an army may decide to retreat, after which all units on their side must immediately perform the Retreat meneuver for each of their units.
Immediately after the battle, all units that were broken but not disbanded can execute the Rally maneuver. (This excludes units that have already been rallied during the battle, as a unit can rally only once per battle.) Units that succeed at the Retreat or Rally maneuvers gain strength back at a rate of 1 per week, incrementing the casualty die until they have their full strength once again. Units that survive the battle, including those that rallied at the conclusion of the battle, can increase their experience if applicable.
Levies immediately disband after the battle, as they are always temporary units. New levies must be mustered from scratch for the next battle. Likewise, special units go their own way, and units mustered through alliances or diplomacy return to their home domains, unless otherwise arranged.
Ongoing effects: Any ongoing effects, tokens, or unit conditions automatically end for all units once the battle is over. It is assumed that once combat is no longer a priority, surviving troops and their officers can quickly resolve any problems a unit is having.
Traits, Maneuvers & Attachments
We have now covered the general rules. Now we have arrived at the specific. Units have Traits, which are special features or abilities. Sometimes, they require an action, bonus action or reaction to use. Some of those Traits are Maneuvers, which are also special abilities, but they are easier to acquire and a bit more generic. However, there are also a few Maneuvers almost any unit, or every infantry unit, can execute, so it is not necessary to have the trait for it. Attachments are special traits representing support elements, such as field medics or mages. Attachments can be detached from a unit and attached to a different unit between battles. Attachments, being entirely self-contained, also don’t add any requirement from the unit to which they are attached, although certain attachments only fit with certain unit types. Unless stated otherwise, units can only have 1 attachment.
As a reaction to an opposed unit adjacent to this unit breaking or moving out of its space, this unit makes a DC 8 Command test. On a success, this unit moves into the opposed unit’s former space.
Prerequisite: any broken unit
This unit makes a DC 13 Morale test (no action required). On a success, the unit reforms with 1 casualty. If a 20 is rolled on the d20 for the test, the unit reforms with 2 casualties. On a failure, the broken unit disbands.
Each unit can be rallied only once per battle—either at the end of the battle using the Rally maneuver, or beforehand by the use of a martial advantage or some other special feature. At the end of a battle, after a victor has been declared, all broken units automatically attempt the Rally maneuver, unless they have already been rallied by some other means. (As a battle progresses, players should keep track of which units have already been rallied.)
If a commander has a reaction that allows them to rally a unit during another unit’s activation (for example, as a reaction to being broken by an opposed unit’s successful attack) the rally is executed immediately. If the unit successfully rallies, the unit that triggered the reaction then finishes its activation. (In the example above, it would proceed to the Power test, potentially inflicting more damage on the just-rallied unit.)
This unit makes a DC 8 Command test. On a success, the unit is removed from the battle and its current casualties are recorded. On a failure, the unit suffers 1 casualty as opposed units take parting shots at it. If this does not break the unit, it is removed from the battle and its current casualties are recorded.
A commander must attempt the Retreat maneuver for all their units if the commander’s army is defeated in battle. But a commander can also attempt the Retreat maneuver with any unit on its activation in order to save the unit from a potentially worse fate.
Set for Charge
As a reaction to suffering a casualty from a cavalry or aerial unit, this unit makes a DC 13 Command test. On a success, the attacking unit suffers 1 casualty.
As a reaction to failing a Morale test, this unit can move back into an empty space instead of suffering a casualty. If there is no empty space behind this unit, it cannot use this maneuver.
AAAUUUGH!!! When this unit breaks, all adjacent units suffer 1 casualty.
Adaptable. This unit has advantage on Morale and Command tests.
Aerial Bombardment. If this unit spends an activation doing nothing, it can use its next activation to target a fortification by making a DC 13 Power test. On a success, it deals 1d4 + 2 damage to the fortification.
Amphibious. This unit is able to fight underwater and does not suffer movement penalties when fighting underwater, or in rain or mud.
Armored Carapace. This unit suffers no casualties from artillery Attack tests.
Attachment: Auxiliary Sappers. This unit can attack an adjacent fortification. It automatically hits (no Attack test or Power test needed) and deals 2 damage.
Attachment: Field Medics. Once per battle as an action, this unit can heal itself or an adjacent unit. The target unit’s casualty die is incremented by 2, and it gains advantage on its next Morale test.
Attachment: Mage Cadre Support. This unit has advantage on Power tests to resist battle magic. Furthermore, this unit is capable of casting available battle magic.
Attachment: Noisemakers. Once per battle when this unit succeeds on an Attack test, the target unit must succeed on a DC 13 Morale test or be disoriented.
Attachment: Priest Support. This unit has advantage on Morale tests caused by Aberrations, Fiends and Undead. It has advantage on Morale tests to attack units with the Harrowing trait.
Attachment: Ranger Guides. This unit ignores movement penalties from terrain. When this unit attacks a hidden unit, it can make a DC 15 Command test. On a success, this unit ignores the disadvantage from attacking a hidden unit.
Attachment: Guards Platoon. Once per battle, as a reaction to suffering 1 or more casualties from a melee attack or power test, this unit can ignore 1 casualty.
Barbs. An opposed infantry unit that makes a successful Power test as part of an attack against this unit suffers 1 casualty.
Battle Hymn. This unit has a bonus to Morale equal to its commander’s domain size, as do allied units while adjacent to this unit. If there is no domain, the bonus is +1.
Better than One. When this unit attacks an opposed unit, it can also attack any other adjacent opposed unit.
Big. This unit has advantage on Power tests against units whose casualty die or current strength is greater than this unit’s.
Blanket Fire. As an action, choose a rank on the battlefield. Attack each unit in that rank. Recharge 4–6.
Blinding. When an opposed unit fails an Attack test against this unit, the opposed unit is disoriented.
Burning. Each opposed unit that activates adjacent to this unit suffers 1 casualty.
Burrow. As an action, remove this unit from the battlefield. On its next activation, place the unit in any empty space. The unit is disoriented until the end of that activation.
Charge. If this unit moves at least 1 space before it attacks, it has advantage on Attack tests for this activation as long as the target is in the direction the unit moved.
Chorus of Victory. As an action, choose a rank on the battlefield. Each allied unit in that rank increments its casualty die and has advantage on Attack tests until the end of its next activation. Recharge 6.
Close Range. This unit has advantage on Attack tests and Power tests against adjacent units.
Cloud of Darkness. Opposed units have disadvantage on Attack tests against this unit.
Collateral Damage. When this unit makes a successful Power test against an infantry or artillery unit, the unit opposite the target also suffers 1 casualty.
Consume. As an action, choose an adjacent opposed unit with casualties lower than this unit’s. That unit must succeed on a DC 15 Power test or break. Recharge 5–6.
Corrode. When this unit makes a successful Attack test against an opposed unit, that unit takes -2 to Attack and Defense. Each opposed unit can be affected by this trait only once per battle.
Corrosive Breath. As an action, choose three adjacent opposed units. Each unit must succeed on a Power test (DC = 8 + this unit’s size) or suffer 2 casualties and gain one acid token. Recharge 5–6.
Create Dead. If this unit causes an opposed unit to break, replace that unit with a Ghoul Infantry unit under the command of this unit’s commander.
Damage Resistant. Successful Attack tests against this unit inflict no casualties. Successful Power tests inflict casualties normally.
Daylight Weakness. While in direct sunlight, this unit has disadvantage on Power tests.
Dead. This unit always succeeds on Morale tests, and cannot be diminished.
Dig! As an action, choose a space containing an opposed fortification and remove this unit from the battlefield. On the unit’s next activation, the target fortification takes 2d6 damage and this unit breaks as though it were in that space.
Dire Hyena Mounts. This unit has advantage on Attack tests against diminished units.
Disruptive. When an opposed unit adjacent to this unit activates, it has a 25 percent chance of doing nothing on that activation.
Draconic Ancestry. This unit cannot be disorganized or weakened, and it is immune to the Harrowing trait.
Dragonkin. If there is an allied dragon in the battle or if this unit’s commander has some sort of draconic ancestry, this unit has advantage on Attack tests, Command tests, and Morale tests.
Drone. As an action, choose a rank on the battlefield. Each opposed unit in that rank must succeed on a DC 15 Power test or suffer 1 casualty and be unable to move on its next activation. This unit can use this trait only once per battle.
Earthmarch. This unit does not suffer movement penalties when moving into a space with fortifications, mud or mountains.
Elf-shot. When this unit succeeds on a Power test as part of an attack, the target unit must succeed on a DC 10 Power test or become weakened until the end of its next activation.
Embiggen. As a reaction to activating, this unit’s size increases to 8. Its casualty die becomes a d8 and is incremented twice. Until the end of its activation, the unit has advantage on Attack tests and Power tests. This unit can use this trait only once per battle.
Eternal. This unit has advantage on Morale tests against undead or fiend units, and on the Morale test to attack units with the Harrowing trait.
Ethereal. This unit has +1 to movement. It can move through other units, but only if it can end its movement in an empty space. Other units do not gain bonuses to Defense from fortifications against this unit’s attacks.
Fade. After a successful Attack test, this unit can move back 1 space. Opposed units cannot use the Follow Up maneuver in response.
Fast Siege Weapon. This unit can attack a fortification. It automatically hits (no Attack test or Power test needed) and deals 3 damage. The unit gains a -2 penalty to damage.
Fast Siege Weapon (Heavy). This unit can attack a fortification. It automatically hits (no Attack test or Power test needed) and deals 5 damage. The unit gains a -2 penalty to damage.
Fearless. This unit automatically succeeds on Morale tests.
Fearsome. As a reaction to making an Attack test, this unit forces the target to succeed on a Morale test (DC = 8 + this unit’s size) or suffer 1 additional casualty.
Feast. At the end of this unit’s activation, if any diminished unit is adjacent to it, increment this unit’s casualty die.
Fire Blast. As an action, this unit forces two adjacent opposed units to each make a DC 13 Power test. On a failure, a unit suffers 2 casualties. Recharge 5–6.
Fire Breath. As an action, this unit forces three adjacent opposed units to each make a Power test (DC = 8 + this unit’s size). On a failure, a unit suffers 2 casualties and gains a fire token. Recharge 5–6.
Fire Immunity. This unit does not suffer casualties from traits or other effects with ‘fire’ or ‘flame’ in their names, or from fire tokens.
Fire Resistance. As a reaction, this unit can remove a fire token.
Flaming Weapons. When this unit makes a successful Power test as part of an attack, it adds a fire token to the target in addition to the normal effects of the test.
Fly. Same as Hop. For its movement, this unit can move to any empty space on the battlefield.
“Follow the Standard!” When this unit succeeds on a Power test as part of an attack, each cavalry unit the unit’s commander controls can use a reaction to immediately make an attack against the target of the Power test.
Guerrillas. When this unit succeeds on an Attack test against any opposed infantry or artillery unit (but not siege weapons), that unit is disoriented.
Gulp. As an action, this unit forces an opposed infantry or artillery unit (but not a siege engine) to make a DC 15 Power test. On a failure, the target unit is diminished (or is broken if it was already diminished). Recharge 5–6
Hallucinatory Spores. As an action, this unit forces a legal target to make a DC 15 Power test. On a failure, the opposed unit attacks one of its own allied units of this unit’s choice on the opposed unit’s next activation.
Hard Hats. This unit has +2 to Defense against attacks from aerial units.
Harriers. If this unit succeeds on a Power test as part of an attack, this unit becomes the target unit’s only legal target on its next activation.
Harrowing. Any opposed infantry, cavalry, or aerial unit must first succeed on a Morale test (DC = 10 + this unit’s tier) when it attacks this unit. On a success, the attacking unit is not affected by any unit’s Harrowing trait for the rest of the battle. On a failure, the attacking unit’s activation ends.
Heroes of the Myriad Worlds. Once per battle as a bonus action, this unit can gain advantage on Attack tests and Power tests until the end of its activation.
Holy. Undead and fiend units have disadvantage on Attack tests and Power tests against this unit.
Hop. Same as Fly. For its movement, this unit can move to any empty space on the battlefield.
Horse Artillery. As a reaction to an enemy unit moving into an adjacent space, this unit can take a reaction where it must make a DC 13 Command test. On a success, it can immediately move a space.
Implacable. This unit cannot unwillingly be moved or teleported, and it can ignore any effects of terrain.
Indistinct. Attack tests for ranged attacks made against this unit have disadvantage.
Inexorable. This unit is immune to any effect that would hinder or stop its movement, or that would deny it the ability to use actions.
Inspire Fear. Whenever this unit leaves an opposed unit diminished, all goblinoid units in the same rank as this unit can immediately attack a legal target.
Into the Breach. As a reaction when it successfully executes the Follow Up maneuver, this unit has +2 to Defense until the beginning of its next activation.
Invisibility. This unit cannot be attacked until it successfully attacks an opposed unit.
Jaunt. In place of its movement, remove this unit from the battlefield. It returns to the space it left, or an unoccupied space of the GM’s choice if that space is occupied, at the start of its next activation. Recharge 5–6.
Kalwood Blades. This unit is immune to magical effects, including magical traits and battle magic. Furthermore, this unit gains a +10 bonus to Attack tests against constructs.
Lightning Breath. As an action, choose a rank on the battlefield. Each unit in that rank must succeed on a Power test (DC = 8 + this unit’s size) or suffer 2 casualties. Recharge 5–6.
Limited Amphibian. This unit can fight underwater but has disadvantage on morale, command and power tests against seaborne creatures when underwater. It does not suffer movement penalties in rain and mud.
Load the Bones. While any diminished unit is adjacent to this unit, this unit has +2 damage against opposed fortifications.
Mage Cadre: This unit has advantage on Power tests to resist battle magic. This unit is capable of casting battle magic.
Magic Resistant. This unit has advantage on Power tests to resist battle magic.
Magic Vulnerability. This unit has disadvantage on Power tests to resist battle magic.
Magical Adepts. As a bonus action, this unit forces an opposed unit to make a DC 13 Power Test. On a failure, allied units have advantage on Attack tests against the opposed unit until the end of the battle. Recharge 5–6.
Maneuver: Detonate. As an action, this unit deals 1d4 + 2 damage to an adjacent fortification. Recharge 3–6.
Maneuver: “Evasive Maneuvers!” As a reaction when an opposed artillery unit makes an Attack test against this unit, impose disadvantage on the opposed unit’s Attack test. Recharge 5–6.
Maneuver: “Fire!!” As a reaction to a successful Power test made against a target unit, add a fire token to the target. Recharge 4–6.
Maneuver: “Hold the Line!” As a reaction to being diminished, this unit makes a DC 13 Command test. On a success, this unit ignores the casualties that caused it to become diminished, and is not diminished.
Maneuver: “Lancers! Flank Them!” As a reaction when an opposed cavalry or aerial unit inflicts 1 or more casualties on an allied infantry or artillery unit, this unit makes a free attack against that opposed unit.
Maneuver: “Land and Charge!” While this unit has the aerial type, it can use a bonus action to make a DC 11 Command test. On a success, this unit’s Power tests have +2 damage on this activation, but the unit’s type becomes cavalry for its next activation. At the end of its next activation, the unit regains the aerial type. Recharge 4–6.
Maneuver: Outflank. As an action, move this unit into any empty space. Any opposed unit that executes the Follow Up maneuver in response has disadvantage on the Command test.
Maneuver: “Prey on the Weak.” As a reaction to an exposed opposed unit being diminished, this unit makes a DC 10 Command test. On a success, the unit makes an attack against the opposed unit.
Maneuver: “Ram Them!” As an action, this unit targets an opposed cavalry unit and makes a DC 15 Command test. On a success, the target unit suffers 1 casualty and loses its next action.
Maneuver: Repair. As an action, a fortification this unit is on or adjacent to recovers 1d4 + 2 hit points, up to its starting hit points.
Maneuver: Spit Upon Their Horns. As a reaction to succeeding on a Power test made as part of an attack, this unit makes a DC 13 Command test. On a success, the target unit suffers 1 additional casualty.
Maneuver: Strafe. As a reaction to succeeding on a Power test made as part of an attack against an opposed artillery or infantry unit, this unit makes a DC 13 Command test. On a success, two adjacent opposed units in the same rank as the target unit each suffer 1 casualty.
Maneuver: Testudo. As a reaction to suffering 1 or more casualties from an opposed artillery or aerial unit’s Attack test, this unit makes a DC 13 Command test. On a success, any opposed unit targeting this unit has disadvantage on Power tests until this unit’s next activation.
Mass Protection Against Evil. Any non-humanoid opposed infantry or artillery unit must succeed on a DC 15 Morale test to enter the vanguard rank of this unit’s side.
Meld. As a reaction to a successful Attack test against an infantry or artillery unit, this unit can move into the target unit’s space. While this unit is in the target’s space, the target unit cannot move and can attack only this unit. Units attacking either unit in this space have a 50 percent chance of targeting the wrong unit.
Mobile. This unit has advantage on the Command test when using the Follow Up maneuver, and can move back 2 spaces when using the Withdraw maneuver.
Nature’s Bond. When an allied infantry or artillery unit suffers 1 or more casualties, this unit can take the casualty instead. This unit must deploy in its side’s front.
None. This unit has no traits.
Noxious Fog. As an action, this unit places two poison tokens in each of 4 adjacent spaces. Any unit that moves into a space with one or more of these poison tokens or that activates there suffers 1 casualty per token. Each space loses one poison token
at the end of this unit’s subsequent activations. Recharge 5–6.
Pack Tactics. When an adjacent unit that also has this trait successfully uses the Follow Up maneuver, this unit can move into any empty space adjacent to this unit’s current position.
Pike Training. This unit has advantage on the Command test for the Set for Charge maneuver.
Point Blank. When this unit succeeds on a Power test as part of an attack against an adjacent unit, it inflicts 1 additional casualty.
Poisonous. When this unit succeeds on a Power test as part of an attack, the target unit is also weakened until the end of its next activation.
Pool of Soul’s Blood. Any opposed infantry or artillery unit adjacent to this unit cannot leave its space.
Psionic Shielding. As a reaction, when this unit is targeted by battle magic, it can shield itself against battle magic until its next activation. Recharge 6.
Quadruped. For its movement, this unit becomes a cavalry unit until the end of its activation. The unit leaves the grid and then returns to the space it left at the end of its activation (or to its army’s reserve rank if that space is occupied). Recharge 5–6.
Ram Riders. When this unit succeeds on a Power test as part of an attack, the target unit must succeed on a followup DC 10 Power test or become disoriented until the end of its next activation.
Reckless. This unit can take disadvantage on any Attack test in order to have that Attack test inflict an additional 1 casualty.
Reflector. When this unit fails a Power test against a wand, it can use a reaction to roll a d20. On a 10 or higher, this unit suffers no effect from the wand and the unit activating the wand suffers the effect instead.
Regenerate. Each time this unit activates, increment its casualty die by 1.
Relentless. As a reaction to suffering a casualty that would cause this unit to break, this unit makes a DC 13 Power test. On a success, this unit does not break and has 1 strength remaining..
Rime. Any opposed infantry or artillery unit adjacent to this unit has its movement reduced to 0 and cannot benefit from bonus movement.
Rock! As an action, this unit can make an Attack test against any opposed unit, with disadvantage if the target is an aerial unit. Recharge 4–6.
Rockbreaker. This unit deals double damage against fortifications.
Rolling Thunder. As an action, this unit makes an opposed Power test against an adjacent opposed unit. If this unit’s result is equal to or greater than the target’s, the target unit must move back 1 space or break. This unit immediately moves into the target unit’s vacated space.
Rush. This unit automatically succeeds on the Command test for the Follow Up maneuver.
Sappers. Once per battle, as an action, this unit places 1d4 explosive tokens on an adjacent space. If there is a unit in this space, it gains all tokens. If a unit moves into this space, it gains the tokens and immediately suffers the effects, gaining the disoriented condition until its next activation. If the tokens have been placed on a fortification, and they are still in place by this unit’s next activation, each token deals 2 damage to the fortification and is removed.
Savage. Each successful Attack test by this unit adds a bleed token to a target unit. Each bleed token inflicts 2 casualties.
Scourge of the Wild. This unit has +2 to Attack and +2 to Power against orc, goblinoid, or elf units.
Scouts. This unit can deploy into the rear rank of an opposed army.
Screech. As an action, this unit forces an opposed unit to succeed on a DC 15 Power test or become misled. Recharge 4–6.
Seaborne. This unit has no penalties in underwater and water environments, but suffers disadvantage on morale tests when out of water
Serene. This unit has advantage on morale tests.
Shock Troops. Each time this unit causes another unit to be diminished, this unit gains +2 to Attack and +2 to Power until the end of the battle.
Shrapnel Shot. As an action, this unit forces a target unit to succeed on a DC 12 Power test or suffer 2 casualties and become weakened. An affected unit can repeat this power test at the end of each of its activations to lose the weakened unit condition. Recharge 5–6.
Siege Engine. This unit must spend 1 round of battle doing nothing before each attack. This unit can attack a fortification. It automatically hits (no Attack test or Power test needed) and deals 1d4+2 damage.
Siege Weapon. This unit can attack an adjacent fortification. It automatically hits (no Attack test or Power test needed) and deals 3 damage.
Slam. When this unit succeeds on a Power test as part of an attack, the target unit is also disoriented.
Skirmishers. This unit can attack any unit that is two spaces away: it could target any unit that, if it had an infantry unit in every position that it could target without this trait, those infantry units could target. Visualisation. However, it cannot have super-heavy or heavy equipment.
Smoke Screen. When this unit succeeds on an Attack test against another unit, that unit is also disoriented.
Solar Flare. Once per battle as a reaction to targeting a fortification, the damage this unit deals to fortifications is maximized, and it deals that damage to all fortifications in one rank.
Soporific Spores. As an action, this unit forces a legal target to make a DC 13 Power test. On a failure, the opposed unit is disorganized.
Sow Chaos. Each opposed unit within 1 space of this unit has disadvantage on Morale and Command tests, and suffers 1 additional casualty if it fails the Morale test to avoid becoming diminished.
Split. When this unit is diminished, place an identical unit with the same current combat statistics and casualties in an empty adjacent space.
Spores. When this unit is targeted by a successful Attack test from an infantry, cavalry, or aerial unit, the attacking unit must succeed on a DC 13 Power test or become disoriented.
Squad Mages. This unit has advantage on Power tests to resist battle magic. As a bonus action, this unit can either gain advantage on one test, or regain 1 strength, but it can only regain strength once per battle. Recharge 5-6.
Stalwart. While this unitis diminished, opposed infantry and cavalry units have disadvantage on Power tests against it.
Stinky. Any opposed unit adjacent to this unit has disadvantage on Attack tests.
Stone. Each opposed unit that activates adjacent to this unit suffers 1 casualty.
Stoneskin. As a reaction to suffering 1 or more casualties from any opposed artillery unit, this unit can ignore 1 of those casualties.
Strength in Numbers. This unit begins the battle with 1 additional casualty for each other undead unit in its army.
Stupid. Each time it attacks, this unit has a 25 percent chance of ignoring its intended target and attacking a random adjacent unit.
Swords of the Dragon Lord. When this unit makes a successful Attack test against a target unit, the target must succeed on a DC 13 Morale test or suffer 1 additional casualty.
To the Death. If this unit breaks as a result of an opposed unit’s Attack or Power test, the attacking unit suffers 1 casualty.
Veterans of a Thousand Wars. This unit’s movement increases by 1. When attacking units of a lower tier, its damage increases by 1.
Wail. Once per battle, this unit can use an action to force each adjacent opposed unit to make a DC 15 Power test. On a failure, a unit suffers 1 casualty, and its Morale bonus is reduced to 0 until the end of its next activation. On a success, a unit has disadvantage on Morale tests until the end of its next activation.
Warbred. As a reaction to succeeding on a Power test as part of an attack, this unit can make a DC 10 Command test. On a success, this unit can attack again.
Wave. When this unit succeeds on a Power test as part of an attack against an opposed unit, the opposed unit is pushed back 1 space if there is an empty space behind it. If there is no empty space, the opposed unit and the unit behind it each suffer 1 casualty.
Whirlwind. When this unit succeeds on an Attack test against an opposed infantry unit, that unit takes ?2 to Attack and Defense. Each opposed unit can be affected by this trait once per battle.
Wily. As a reaction when this unit is hit by an melee Attack Test, it can immediately make the Withdraw maneuver. If this unit succeeds, then the attacking unit must succeed on a Follow Up maneuver or the Power Test automatically fails.
You Follow! Whenever this unit successfully uses the Follow Up maneuver, each goblinoid unit in the rank this unit leaves can move 1 space.
Battle magic is powerful magic that can affect the course of an entire battle. Most spells player characters have access to are meant for small skirmishes, like normal combat encounters. Battlefields are much larger, and even a famously brutal spell like fireball does not have the range nor impact to hurt a military unit on its own. Some spells are powerful enough – those will be covered in this section. However, the more common way of bringing magic to the battlefield is with battle magic.
Battle magic is cast by not one spellcaster but by several. Enough low-level mages working together can produce astonishing results, as long as they are well trained. A group of spellcasters working together to caste battle magic is called a mage cadre. Mage cadres are required to cast battle magic: with the exception of special and/or monstrous units, only artillery units with the “mage cadre” trait can cast the full range of battle magic. Units with the “attachment: mage cadre support” can also cast some battle magic options. Finally, spellcasters with a stronghold can also gain their own special mage cadres from a feature called “Martial Advantages”. Each battle, they can attach these to any of their units, regardless of traits.
Strongholds are important in more than one way. While below are certain generic kinds of battle magic, to unlock superior battle magic, it is necessary to construct either a tower or a temple stronghold. Each stronghold level will provide access to more advanced kinds of battle magic.
Because there are quite a few sources of battle spells and varying requirements, please refer to the Warfare Sheets tab on battle magic which will include a list of all battle magic options, their effects, category, requirements etc.
The difficulty challenge to resist battle magic often adds the stronghold level of the commanding officer. So if your player character has a level 2 stronghold, the difficulty challenge of Flaming Barrage would be DC 11+2.
Mage cadres and normal attacks: Units with the “mage cadre” trait are artillery and can therefore also make normal attacks, targeting any other unit on the battlefield. Such attacks are assumed to be plain magical force attacks, but they can be flavoured by their commander in many different ways.
Action, bonus action, reaction: a unit can only cast one instance of battle magic per activation. If it cast a battle spell as a bonus action, it can not also cast a battle spell as an action, and vice versa. Using a unit’s action to cast a spell as a commander or to use a ritual (see martial advantages) counts as casting a battle spell as an action. If a unit uses its reaction outside of its own activation, it can cast a battle spell without consequence.
Preparing Battle Magic
At the start of a battle, a commander with units that have access to battle magic can choose a number of battle spells that they have access to up to their proficiency modifier to prepare for the battle. Battle magic options from martial advantages do not count towards this number, and are always available. During the battle, the commander’s units can only use the battle spells that were prepared for this battle.
Generic Battle Spells
Arc Absorb. Reaction. Requires: mage cadre trait. As a reaction to gaining one or more tokens, this unit removes one token and sets it aside. The next time it hits a target unit with battle magic, or a target unit fails its Power test against this unit’s battle magic, this unit places the token on the target unit.
Arc Shield. Reaction. Requires: mage cadre trait. As a reaction to being hit by a ranged attack, this unit adds +5 to its defense against ranged attacks until its next activation, potentially negating the hit.
Flaming Barrage. Action. Requires: mage cadre trait. This unit chooses a target unit, which must make a DC 11+SL Power test. The unit gains 2 fire tokens on a failure.
Freezing Barrage. Action. Requires: mage cadre trait. This unit chooses a target unit, which must make a DC 11+SL Power test. The unit gains 2 ice tokens on a failure.
Rock Volley. Action. Requires: mage cadre trait. This unit chooses a target unit, which must make a DC 11+SL Power test. The unit takes 2 casualties on a failure, or 1 on a success.
Single Spellcaster Spells as Battle Spells
Only the biggest spells are bad enough for a single spellcaster to affect the battle on their own. A commander can cast one of these as an action when they activate a unit. They can only cast spells they personally either know or have prepared. The commander must expend a spell slot and pay the material components (if any) as normal.
Meteor Swarm. Action. Choose 4 non-aerial units. Each unit must make a Power test. The DC is equal your spell save DC. On a failed save, the unit takes 4 casualties and gains 2 fire tokens. Otherwise, it takes 2 casualties and gains 1 fire token.
Mighty Fortress. Action. Choose four spaces connected in a two-by-two manner. A keep rises up, harmlessly lifting any units in its space into the fortifications. 7 days after the battle, the fortress crumbles into the ground.
Storm of Vengeance. Action. Choose a space on the battlefield. During the round you casted this spell, any unit which enters that space or is activated in that space must make a Power test. The DC is equal your spell save DC. On a failed test, the unit takes 2 casualties and gains an 2 acid tokens. Otherwise, they take 1 casualty and gain 1 acid token.
During the second and third round of the spell, any unit which enters that space or is activated in that space must make another Power test. On a failed test, they gain 2 cold tokens, and are unable to move until the start of their next activation. Otherwise, they gain 1 cold token.
After the third round, the spell ends.
Tsunami. Action. Choose a unit occupying a space on the battlefield, which must make a Power test. The DC is equal your spell save DC. It has disadvantage on this test if it is advanced to a space with water, such as a river. The unit takes 4 casualties on a failure, and if possible must move 1 space in a direction of your choosing. If there is no available space into which to move, the unit breaks. On a success, the unit takes 2 casualties, and does not move.
Unit Building & Army Management
An officer can command a number of units equal to their proficiency bonus. Every unit an army fields—both regular units and special units, no matter how those units are gained—must have a commander.
Unit Experience Bonuses
Unit Equipment Bonuses
Unit size is always an approximation. Some traits can (temporarily) increase the size of the casualty die, and some units, especially monstrous units, don’t fit in the standard paradigm. As you can see, the larger units get, the more people there are per die, so it’s more efficient to pay for many small units instead of one big unit, since smaller units also have the benefit of providing more actions (= attacks -> victory) per capita. However, there is a limit on how many units you can command, so at some point there is no other way to grow than to upgrade your units.
Ancestries & Mounts
Unit ancestry grants ability modifiers and traits. Mounts for cavalry and aerial units can also grant various traits. However, their biggest limit is their availability. Elves, for instance, do not live everywhere and do not want to service just everyone. You can only acquire units with the ancestry or mounts that want to work for you and that are available in the area where you are recruiting your army. Because the high number of total ancestries and mounts, I have listed them in a separate sheets document: Ancestries & Mounts
Recruiting new units can be done in several ways. The easiest way is to hire mercenaries, but it is also the most expensive. Typically, you need your own domain to be able to recruit units, including people living in that domain to serve as willing recruits. You will most likely rely on the income of your domain to pay for the units.
However, if you lack a domain to control, such as when you are a travelling mercenary company, you will need contracts with rulers to pay for your men and permission from local administrators to recruit new units from among their people. Alternatively, you could put out a call to any person seeking a job and an adventure from all sorts of places to join your cause. Depending on how compelling your cause, you might get people to show up – sometimes even without having to pay for their training and recruitment.
Basics of recruitment: to recruit, you need access to people to recruit, as described above, and money. Unless they volunteer or show up ready to fight, a new unit costs 1 month of upkeep – and if its equipment is medium, heavy or super-heavy, you need to pay for its equipment upgrade upfront. It takes 1 month to recruit a new unit, but you do not need to pay additional upkeep during this month.
Step by step:
First, decide how you are recruiting, what sort of recruits you have access to, and what you can afford. If you are recruiting mercenaries or calling on adventurers and volunteers, the GM might have tables for you to roll, but you will have limited choices available.
Then, pick an ancestry. Unit ancestry has significant impact on their statistics, but usually the area of recruitment and your relation with different ancestries limits what ancestries you have access to.
Now, choose the unit size and type. Unit type is an important decision, but size is something you can always increase later. You now know the unit’s base monthly upkeep, which you need to pay upfront once to recruit this unit.
If you pick cavalry or aerial, you will also need to decide on what mount (unless they are large and fast by themselves such as centaurs, or can fly by themselves, such as Aarakocra). Some mounts will modify the monthly upkeep, and often only a few mounts are available to choose from.
If you pick artillery, you can pick the “Fast Siege Weapon” or “Siege Engine” trait for free at this stage. This will make the unit an Artillery (Siege) unit.
All new recruits start green, so you cannot pick experience. If you are hiring more experienced units, their level of experience is usually predetermined.
New recruits are light by default. If you are able to pay for it, you can upgrade their equipment to medium or above. Note that this increases the upkeep cost as well.
Now, pick any traits you wish to add to this unit. These either modify the unit upkeep cost and/or have a base cost associated with them. You will need to pay these as well.
Finally, decides which character commands this unit. After one month, they will be ready for battle.
The following costs represent gold required to pay a unit for 1 month. Units must be paid at the start of each month, if they are in your own hire (you do not have to pay for the upkeep of units sent by allies or fighting as volunteers). If you cannot pay a unit, roll a 1d8. If the result is a 1, they desert your cause, unless you promise extra pay. This die needs to be rolled at the start of every month until all the money they are owed has been paid. Levies always desert if they are not paid.
It is possible to attempt to persuade units to remain, even if they would otherwise desert and you cannot promise extra pay. However, unless their homes and/or families are at stake, they are unlikely to be persuaded.
Unit type: cavalry needs to provide for horses, and its soldiers are typically paid a higher wage. Artillery might not ride on horseback, but usually still requires more wagons and horses to carry its artillery. Levies are pressed into service and paid only what they need to survive, so they are cheaper. Levies are 40% cheaper than infantry. Other types are more expensive: cavalry by 33%, aerial by 67% and artillery by 20%. This has been included in the table below.
Experience & Equipment: upkeep is also modifier by the experience and the equipment of a unit. More experienced troops demand better pay – at least, so do elites. Better equipment also naturally requires more gold to maintain and replace. These factors are not represented in the table, so you and the GM have to manually apply these modifiers.
green, regular & veteran: +0%
elite: +15% (x1.15)
super-elite: +30% (x1.3)
medium: +5% (x1.05)
heavy: +15% (x1.15)
super-heavy: +40% (x1.40)
For mercenaries, calculate the normal upkeep cost of the unit and then roll 2d6 x 10 for what percentage more expensive than normal they are. So if you roll a 2 and a 3, the units are 50% more expensive. Depending on what you are planning or if there are other forces also seeking mercenaries, the GM may change the number or type of dice you have to roll.
Upgrading Unit Equipment
When upgrading unit equipment, its current equipment does not matter. There must be sufficiently industrial areas available to you, such as a friendly city, to be able to upgrade units. Upgrades take three months to complete.
Increasing Unit Size
When increasing unit size, you can only go up by one step at a time. For an increase in size, you need to pay the base monthly upkeep of the new size subtracted by the base monthly upkeep of the previous size, as seen in the table. It is not necessary to take other modifiers into account for the upgrade itself. Unit size increases take one month to complete.
Acquiring Unit Traits
There are many traits that are not available to most units. A list of traits that can be learned by normal units you will be working with can be found in the Warfare Sheets. Each trait has a cost based on the unit size, which impacts recruitment as well as upkeep. Because there are so many traits, there is no way to make universal rules for them. Adding a new unit trait requires you to pay the increase in upkeep upfront. The unit gains access to the new trait after one month.
Requirements: many traits have requirements. You cannot pick a trait unless your character or the unit meets the requirements.
Limit: there is a maximum limit of traits a unit can have. When you recruit a unit, you can only pick a maximum of 2 traits other than traits from its ancestry or mount.
No more than 5 total traits.
No more than 3 non-ancestry, non-mount traits.