[4e] Group-Level Actions

edited June 2008 in Story Games
Our D&D group wants to do some Reign-style company action, where the PC group gets to act on the larger, group-size scale of the setting. We talked about maybe just using Reign's system as is, but I wanted something different.

So, here it is: A system for group-level actions in D&D 4e. (PDF)

Check out the 1-page PDF and let me know what you think. The basic idea is that your group is created like a character, and it can fight other groups on the "group battle board." You give your group actions by completing encounters at the PC-scale (much like you do in Burning Empires).

So, the Company of the Raven raids a goblin cult of Orcus, and you play out that encounter with the PCs. Then, based on what happened in the encounter, the players get to do a "group move" on the group battle board, and attack the Orcus Cult enemy group, or go defensive and grab some "cover," or acquire a better group-level weapon, or whatever. The group-scale character can level up and get new abilities and stuff, too.

The GM might want to make a custom group battle board with interesting terrain to represent the nature of the conflict between the groups (like zones that give attack bonuses because of attracting followers or whatever).


  • edited June 2008
    How do you plan to extend the metaphor - what does terrain represent? If I build more terrain, what is the physical manifestation of that mutual obstruction? Can terrain be one-sided? Maybe terrain's not he right word.

    In your example there are only two forces - I assume there could be others? Minions, allies, neutral parties?

    Do the directions represent axes of thought or political will? If I beat the cultists back, does that diminish the appeal and traction of their ideas?
  • Hmmm. Conceptually I like the idea, but I'm having trouble following the execution.

    What do you mean by Groups having race and class and weapons...you mean in the abstract sense they have stuff that fills those mechanical categories? Or are you literally going to create the company of the Raven as a Dragonborn Paladin with an axe?

    Given that so much of 4E combat is about the synergies of the group on group fighting...is one on one fighting really going to be interesting enough to play out?

    Is the company of the raven a larger organization that the PCs belong to / lead? Or is it literally just the name of their party and the group battle is to see what effect on the world their adventuring has?
  • Suggestions: If the group is larger than the PCs, then I would create a character for each aspect of the group that maps out to the class roles. "The Talon Force Commando Squad" represents the companies attack force and is portrayed by a "striker" character. "The merchanits guild of Analang" is where the company receives most of its funding and is portrayed as a "controller" character, etc.

    If the group is just the party...then I'd just use the party characters right on the battle board, with the opposition represented by the enemies key Lieutenants and henchmen.

    I'd scatter "actions" around the adventure like APs (or even use APs). By doing different things in the adventure, the players earn APs. They then spend the APs to move and attack and do stuff on the battle board.
  • edited June 2008
    (cross-posted with Ralph)

    Minions, allies and such: yes.

    As to the rest, those are things you have to answer locally. I have answers for how I think we'll do it, if that will help.

    Group as Character:
    Yeah, I'm thinking abstract. The Company of the Raven is a mercenary outfit that serves a goddess. So Paladin seems right. We're quick and sneaky, so maybe Halfling or Elf makes sense. No, the Company is not in any way an Elf -- we're just using those mechanics.

    One on one fighting may not be super interesting, which is fine. The real game is still the PC-level stuff, of course. The group fight just gives us a super clear structure for determining when the Cult of Orcus is defeated or run off. It would be badwrong if the group battle was more interesting than the PC encounters.

    In our setting, the Company is a small group of mercs (maybe 12?) who serve as the elite strike team for the Raven Queen (in our world, the gods are present and real). The players are in charge of the Company, and they draw adventuring teams from the roster as needed (we rotate players and GMs so this helps us).
  • John, have you read the Firefight rules from Burning Empires? Luke does some things with company-level actions that get the individual characters involved and are satisfying at the table.
  • We never had a lot of luck with the Burning Empires Firefight rules. I know there is a nugget of goodness in there, but we just did not have the patience to tough it out to find it.
  • I've gotten some good Firefight in at Gencon and it was super fun. Actually, our BE Firefights were really fun, too -- I'm not sure what Brandon means (it was the Infection that some people didn't love).

    Anyway, yes. I'm sure I can steal liberally from BE here, as well as Reign and Conspiracy of Shadows.
  • So you know how Judd's crew is also playing Raven Queen followers who are fighting Orcus? What if they made a character based on their crew and, y'know, put in on the map next to your crew's meta-character... and you fought the cult of Orcus together?

    You see where I'm going with this? You've just invented a really cool way to do "Living Orcus Hunters," with a bunch of different play groups all cooperating on a meta-campaign that incrementally moves along. So, for example, your crew could take out a critical Orcus sanctum that would basically count as an "Aid Another" action on Judd's crew's attempt to stick it to the Demon Prince by disrupting attempts to raise an undead army (which could be an attack or a use of a "campaign" -- i.e. encounter on a meta level -- attack power). Yeah?

    By reading the AP of each other's play too, you could easily share reoccuring villains or locations. Or, if you don't want to tie what one play group is doing to what another is doing, you could declare that you're actually fighting the cult of Orcus across multiple planes / realities at the same time, unknowingly working together. In either case, throwing down mega-crossover adventures at conventions (GenCon, Dreamation) where members of different playgroups assault Orcus together would be mega cool.

    The only problem would be, what if one campaign dies or slows down while another campaign keeps chugging along every week, gaining one "meta-turn" for each encounter completed. So you might have to figure out how to adjust it for differing rates of play.
  • Dude.

    Yes please.

    (I've been chatting with Judd about our parallel games. "We are Brothers in Her Service" is the tagline for them.)
  • As a completely unnecessary sidenote, the Raven Queen is also what attracted me the most about the whole game. Must be something to her. (I'd totally play a Shadar-Kai Warlock if anyone ran a campaign for me :)

    That's an interesting idea, the separate battle sheet. I'd probably have used a map of the region, with different "units" of the opposing factions located in various areas.
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