Battlefield Encounters

This set of random encounter tables is conceived for low-level characters (levels 1-6) in historic or low-fantasy campaigns. Acting as common soldiers or mercenaries, the player characters will experience battle as an extremely dangerous and disordered series of fights. Death will always be near, and fleeing will be a reasonable option. However, with some luck, non-yielding heroes may earn treasure and glory.

The common fighter on the battlefield will not be able to assess the tactics his overlord employs, nor the distribution of forces or the overall situation evolving during battle. Therefore, the referee should describe only the immediate vicinity of the player characters: war cries, shouted orders, arrow flurries, panicking foot soldiers, charging knights, trampled fields, burning hedges, water-filled ditches, and wounded men. This will especially be necessary when changing from one battle phase, i.e., encounter, to the next, to avoid giving the impression of an artificial interruption.

Furthermore, the common or low-level character will probably not be able to significantly influence the outcome of the battle despite his best efforts. The referee is thus encouraged to determine the vanquisher randomly or to predetermine victory depending on the need of the campaign. Player characters will learn the outcome when suddenly either their allies or all their opponents begin to flee.

The referee is advised to award bonus experience to each player character per phase of the battle (between 50 and 100 XP, even when nothing special occurs during deployment or flight) due to the high risks of mortality in such a conflict. When the player characters become particularly powerful through magic, high levels, or by leading their own armies into battle, this encounter system should no longer be used in that campaign.

Phases of Battle

The following encounter tables concern the phases of a field battle, starting with Deployment, during which movement may be hampered by missiles, followed by the Clash, which simulates the impact between tightly moving, charging troops.

During the Clash, player characters should be positioned behind each other, being in an abstract sense responsible for one “row”. After just a few rounds of combat, however, the nature of the battle will evolve. One side or the other might be flanked and retreat; the king might rally his soldiers around his banner; a group of knights may charge into the melee and disperse the foot soldiers; or whatever the referee finds an appropriate description.

At this stage, proceed with the Melee phase. It is called a “melee” as it corresponds to the main phase of the battle, though it is rather a series of skirmish-type fights that will follow, as the original marching order breaks up and the battle becomes more and more dispersed in a large area. Player characters will now be able to act as a group, and they will encounter groups of foes. They can fight each other, all the while more or less ignoring the events around them. Dust, smoke, or bad weather will obscure the view, making it difficult to assess the overall situation of the battle.

Morale (ML) is checked with 2d10 whenever non-player characters are faced with a superior foe. For instance, archers check morale when faced with charging knights; 0-level NPCs always check morale when confronted with area-affecting spells; and soldiers check when suffering serious losses or after losing their leader.

Unless the PCs decide to flee (Flight encounter table) at an early stage, eventually, the battle will result in either Victory or Defeat, which, for the player characters, will mean Pursuit or Flight, respectively. Pursuit is the best phase of the battle to earn treasure. Particularly dastard or greedy adventurers may return to the battlefield once the dust has settled, after Nightfall, to scavenge what spoils the vanquishers may have overlooked.

Deployment (d%)

01 – 50 no missile fire

51 – 90 volley of arrows or crossbow bolts for 3 rounds

91 – 95 volley of sling missiles for 3 rounds

95 – 00 heavy bolt, rock, Greek fire, or from trebuchet or ballista. In a fantasty campaign, this encounter may be replaced by an area-affecting spell. For a late medieval or renaissance campaign, use a stone or iron ball fired from a bombard.

Proceed with the Clash.

The Clash (d%)

01 – 05 2d3 slingers, level 0, ML 6

06 – 10 2d3 archers, level 0, ML 8

11 – 15 2d3 crossbowmen, level 0, ML 8

16 – 30 2d4 infantry with shields and spears, level 0, ML 10

31 – 45 2d3 infantry wielding goedendags, level 0, ML 11

46 – 60 2d3 infantry with pole arms, level 0, ML 12

61 – 65 1d6+1 mounted archer mercenaries from an exotic country, level 1, ML 12

66 – 70 sergeants (mounted fighters below the rank of a knight) with lance, shield, and chainmail, level 1, ML 13

71 – 90 1d3 mounted knights, wearing the heaviest armour available, level 2, ML 14

91 – 95 renowned knight* (known NPC or level 1d6+2), ML 16, riding a griffon or other exceptional steed, and sergeants, level 1, ML 14

96 – 99 war beast (war elephant, trained wyvern, giant lizard, or woolly rhinoceros); if more appropriate, renowned knight

00 king* or duke* leading the hostile army (known NPC or level 1d8+4), ML18, and knights, level 2, ML 15

* If captured alive, noblemen are worth quite a good ransom!

After fighting a Clash for maximum 1d6+2 rounds, proceed with Melee (80%) or a new Clash (20%). Flight may also be attempted.

Melee (d%)

01 – 15 2d4 infantry with shields and spears, level 0, ML 9

16 – 30 2d3 infantry wielding goedendags (crude spear-clubs), level 0, ML 10

31 – 45 2d3 infantry with pole arms, level 0, ML 11

46 – 50 1d6+1 mounted archer mercenaries from an exotic country, level 1, ML 11

51 – 70 1 dismounted knight, level 2, ML 12, and his henchmen, 1 sergeant (dismounted, level 1), 1 crossbowman, 2 spear men, level 0, ML 10

71 – 80 1d3 mounted knights, level 2, ML 13, and 1d3 sergeants, level 1, ML 12

81 – 85 renowned knight* (known NPC or level 1d6+2), wounded (hit points at 75%), riding a griffon or other exceptional steed, ML 15, and 1d3 sergeants, level 1, ML 13

86 – 90 war beast (war elephant, trained wyvern, giant lizard or woolly rhinoceros) at half hit points; if more appropriate, a trebuchet, a ballista, or a bombard may be conquered from a crew of 6, level 0, ML 9

91 – 94 important cleric** (bishop, archbishop, or patriarch, level and morale as appropriate for your campaign) and 2d6 henchmen, level 1

95 – 98 noble sorceress**, common witch**, or pagan shaman**, and bodyguards (monster or 2d4 0-level retainers)

99 – 00 king* or duke* leading the hostile army (known NPC or level 1d8+4), ML16, and knights, level 2, ML 14

* If captured alive, noblemen are worth quite a good ransom!

** Spell caster. If no potent spells exist in your campaign, clerics and “magic-users” will try to flee when opponents fail to be impressed by prayers and mumbo-jumbo.

Proceed with a further Melee (70%), Victory and Pursuit (15%), or Defeat and Flight (15%).

Pursuit (in case of Victory; participation is voluntary; d%)

01 – 40 Corpse field! Treasure type Z as well as one exceptional or magical weapon and one exceptional or magical suit of armour

41 – 50 2d4 frightened peasants; a dirty shovel indicates they just buried their treasure of type R (chaotic or evil act to raid)

51 – 70 1d10 infantry armed with pole arms, ML 7, treasure type Mx5, O

71 – 80 1d10 archers or crossbowmen, ML 6, treasure type Mx5, O

81 – 95 wounded knight* (level 2, half hit points) and 1d3-1 sergeants (level 1), ML 9

96 – 99 wounded renowned knight* (known NPC or level 1d6+2, hit points 75%) and 1d4 sergeants (level 1), ML 11

00 king* or duke* (known NPC or level 1d8+4), and 2d3 wounded knights (level 2, hit points 75%), ML 10; treasure type G including at least one exceptional or magical weapon and one exceptional or magical suit of armour

* If captured alive, noblemen are worth quite a good ransom!

Flight (voluntary anytime after a Clash, mandatory in case of Defeat; d%)

01 – 20 an easy getaway

21 – 40 own troops (2d8 level-0 fighters) join the PCs; roll again on this table

41 – 50 own troops (leader level 1d4+4 und 1d20+10 0-level fighters, ML 13) round up the PCs and lead them back into battle (a new Clash); in case Defeat has occured, the PCs are only to guard the rear of retreating troops

51 – 65 1d20+10 angry peasants (Stufe 0, ML 10) eager to take revenge for some recent atrocities

66 – 90 2d3 hostile knights and sergeants (levels 2 and 1 respectively), mounted, ML 12; they will slaughter commoners, but try to capture gentry alive for ransom

91 – 00 renowned knight (known NPC or level 1d6+2), ML 14, riding a griffon or other exceptional steed, and 1d4 sergeants, level 1, ML 12; they will slaughter commoners, but try to capture gentry alive for ransom

After Nightfall (optional nighttime scavenging; d%)

01 – 30 wounded warrior in a ditch; 50% friend or foe; 5% nobleman, worth a ransom

31 – 35 a renowned knight’s corpse

36 – 50 wenches, looking for fallen lovers

51 – 80 band of 2d6 scavengers, armed and hostile, regardless which side (if any) they fought on

81 – 90 ghouls: either 2d4 undead or a necromancer’s 1d4 retainers collecting teeth and eyeballs for their dark master’s impending unholy ritual

91 – 00 precious loot: an exceptional or magical weapon or suit of armour

This article is free content! Use at your own convenience. A link back to my blog will be appreciated, if you re-publish or modify my battlefield encounters.

Check out Burgs & Bailiffs: Warfare too! by Paolo Greco (editor) for more hot stuff to spice up your medieval fantasy RPG campaign!

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Published in: on August 31, 2013 at 9:21 am  Schreibe einen Kommentar  
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