One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
What is your take with the special combat tactics used by the goblins in the Axe of the Dwarvish Lord in a 3.5 game ?
Are you using them as written, i.e. using a Reflex save for the mass archery tactic for example, or using a DD mini feat from a Dragon in 315 to 320 range (don't remember exactly which one it is), or any other means ?
Maybe there is a 3.5 conversion out there ?
I plan to have my players going after this module in near future.
Some of it depends on what level your PCs will be when fighting them. I have been thinking about how to deal with low-level armies against Epic characters, and AotDL is one of the modules that I plan to use. The idea of a Reflex save does have some appeal - very simple. It does somehow bypass AC though, and any other protections (like Blink, Displacement, Arrow Deflection).
There are rules for rolling many dice at once - you roll 1d20 to simulate rolling 15. Depending on how well you roll, you can determine the number of 20s - since that is all that they goblins will likely be able to hit with. So you could use that, then decide how many hits, and then divide them amongst the party.
You could use the individual vs. unit rules from Malhavoc Press's Cry Havoc!, but I found that with the CR way off, those rules favor the high-level individual almost too much. He can kill off many, many units before getting attacked at all. If you use that, I recommend both sides attacking before removing casualties (an old Battlesystem rule).
The Minitures handbook rules don't seem to speed anything up, IMO. You could try using those. But in general, I don't think a formal system is a good idea when the CR of the attackers is so much below the defenders. Swarm rules might be interesting to adapt to large groups. But whatever is simplest, because really, they are no threat to the PCs.
You could even just figure out the average damage a fair share of goblins would do to a PC of a given AC and apply that. Or, have one goblin attack, and the rest use Aid Another to increase his attack rolls. This only works in Melee, and not with arrows, but it could help with a large grapple attempt.
The AotDL says that for volleyed Missile Fire, instead of attacking individual targets, goblins fire into an area (one 5-foot square per two goblins). Squares must be adjacent and form an area no more than 3 times as long as it is wide, and within range of the missile weapon. Goblins must use same weapon and stand together, receive order from an officer, they get a -2 on iniative. Multiple volley cannot overlap. Volley damage is automatic and inflict weapon damage +1 per two goblins (max + two times weapon maximum damage).
Opponents can try a save against breath weapon to reduce damage by half (i will use Reflex save here), but any roll of 3 or less fails. Then add the opponent AC to the actual damage, negative AC reduces the damage (here i will use following formula : final damage = actual damage + (20 - AC)). All usual protection works like spells, ...
I have tried to use other means like aid another action, or DD mini feat from a Dragon mag (coordinated attacks get +2 to hit and damage, if i remember well), but all of these are not as dangerous as the original rules for high-level PC.
For the other goblins tactics (i.e. Coordinated melee attacks, Shield Wall, and Spear/Pike Hedges), i think i will use them as written, adapting to 3.5 rules as above.
Maybe this can open the way to special feats which can only be used under a commander, who will also need a tactician feat. What do you think ? Maybe these tactics can be also used by Great Kingdom troups as they are often compared to Roman legion ?
I really like the idea of it, and I was planning on trying to tinker with it in 3E terms, and turn it into a generic Epic vs. Armies post, and post that to the Epic Discussion Boards for feedback.
The hard part is generating the DC fo the Reflex save. You also have to include special protections, like Damage Reduction. If no single arrow can hurt the target, then there is no need to make a save. What if an arrow could hurt only a little (Barbarian DR 3/-) or only on a critical? That throws off the averages.
Do you give the Rogue, or a familiar, or paladin's mount their evasion and improved evasion protections?
I like very much the idea of a single roll to deal with the whole army - just not sure what the DC should be, and what total numbers to use. I am glad that the formula accounts for AC as well - AC reducing damage is a nice mechanic.
I promise to write my thoughts up in the next 2 weeks, post them for feedback, and put a link in here. If you need it before then, I would got with a Reflex save with a DC of 10+1/5 goblins...
Concerning the DC of the Reflex save, i think i will go in another direction in fact. Trying to stay true to the original design, i will compare the average breath weapon save of a 13th to 15th level character in 1ed/2ed of the game against the average bonus to the save in 3.5ed, and then going backward from 20. (Not sure if i'm clear here).
For example lets say that the average breath weapon save is at 12 and the average Reflex bonus is +6, the DC will be then at 18 (12+6). Here i only take into account the class bonus, not the dexterity or other modifiers. It could be interesting to add more difficulty due to higher number of goblins maybe a +1/ 10 goblins.
What do you think ?
About the damage reduction, it will reduce the total damage accordingly to keep thing simple. For the evasion ability, i will take into account the position of the character inside the area of effect, should he be near a border he will take full advantage of his special ablity, but caught in the middle of it, that will be another story and i will make sure that he takes some damage.
While searching around, trying to develop my Epic mass combat ideas, I came across the rules in Heroes of Battle that are a direct descendent of the rules in Axe. They are also started in Complete Warrior. Basically the leader of the Volley attacks a square, and then that square gets hit and people make Reflex saves. (CW, pg 124)
At least 10 archers, ignore cover and concealment except from roof.
Commander attacks using BAB+INT-Range against AC10 - use rules for scatter if that misses
DC15 Ref save or take damage, no STR bonus
Heroes of Battle extends this, and adds rules for more archers, etc.
I had overlooked this rule in CW. The only thing that i did not like is that one PC can only be hit by one arrow, and then take only low damage. I prefer the AotL rule, with it i can clearly imagine a PC "criblé de flèches", as we say in french. But the use of a DC15 reflex save is ok.
Could you expand a little on the rules of Heroes of Battle, as i did not have this book ?
I don't have HoB either - I have been thinking of getting it and just browsed it at the store.
Basically it allows more units to attack a square, increasing the damage. I think it maps more closely to the Axe rules. It is only a couple of paragraphs, so worth a browse next time you are by the store.
Still working on my general Epic vs huge masses of bad guys rules.
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