The Pendragon Book of Battle
Knights are fighting men, and combat is an important part of their lives. Some combats are individual, man to man or man to monster. Others have thousands of men involved. The latter conflicts—great wars and epic battles—are the subject of this book. Battles are not the same as one-on-one combat. In individual combat a knight relies only on himself. But being alone in a battle means death, as enemies will gang up on one man. In battle he’s part of a unit and has friends nearby. The individual is subsumed within a unit, and that unit within a formation.
Individuals are only part of a sum of thousands of other participants. In battle, most player knights are attached to a unit, while non-player characters (NPCs) are followers. A leader, maybe a player character (PC), commands the player knights and perhaps some NPC knights as well. This is because he is either of position and rank (“Yes, he is 21 and has a Battle skill of 10, but he is the Earl so he will lead.”) or because he is skilled at the arts of tactical success (“I give you command today over the mercenaries.”)
This system isn’t about an army commander’s perspective over the field of battle. It is about the perspective of the player character knights, fighting together on a confused, disorganized and deadly battlefield. Overall, a unit of knights is simply one little piece of the battle. For the player knights, this is the battle.
Synopsis of Play
A battle is a series of rounds. Each round is similar and proceeds through five steps, of which three are important to attached player knights. Steps are sometimes divided into phases.
Step 1. The player knights check their status.
Step 2. The Gamemaster figures Intensity. This is a single abstract number that represents the number of enemies, their commitment, possible fanaticism or inspiration, the lay of the land, and the quality of the troops in the battle.
Step 3. The unit commander rolls his Battle skill against the Intensity. The results determine the various maneuver options that are open to the unit.
At Step 4. Every knight in the unit fights against one or more individuals for one round of combat.
At Step 5 Results are tallied (wounds, deaths, Glory, loot, squires and followers) and the round is over. A new one starts.
Click here to see a complete Table of Contents.
Click here to see a sample Battle Enemy table, this one for tribal Cymri
Click here for the Battle Map