Mediæval Battle System
Total Votes: 7
DescriptionBattleLust provides a strong contrast to the usual fantasy miniatures game. There are no dragons and monsters here. While there are strong men and weak men, no single hero dominates the battlefield. There is no gunpowder, no war wagons, and no suits of plate armor. Instead, this is a game solidly based on the realities of medieval warfare.
The rules as presented in this book could be used for a historical battle as well as a fantasy battle (if the non-human races are left out…). Rules for magic, divine intervention, and psionics are not presented in BattleLust, but can be grafted in from other products in the Hârnmaster fantasy roleplaying system.
Of Soldiers And Companies
In BattleLust, companies of soldiers occupy the battlefield. A "company" consists of around 20 warriors; a beginning player should command a single company, while experienced players will probably handle two or three companies. The Basic Game allows a company to be put together randomly, or to be purchased given a budget.
Each company is composed of a number of Mani. Each Manus is generally composed of two to eight similarly equipped soldiers (you can individually equip the men, but this of course complicates play). Within the Manus, one figure must be declared to be the leader.
Troop type is determined by a figure's equipment and training. Both infantry and cavalry come in four classes (unarmoured, light, medium, and heavy); archers are classed by their weapon (shortbow or longbow). These rules, which have strong historical roots, consider "heavy infantry" to be equipped with "good mail & padding from head to foot, and may have spot pieces of plate, including a good helmet."
(Note: Rules for using mounted troops are provided in the Advanced Rules.)
Although each warrior in the same Manus is likely to share the same armor and primary weapons, they also have individual stats. Physique is a measure of strength, endurance and speed, and ranges from 8-13 for humans. Initiative, derived from Physique (modified by troop type and training level), measures the soldier's ability to react in combat situations. Move is derived from Physique and troop type (armor), and determines how far a figure can move per turn. Dodge is not usually written down, but equals five times the character's Move (modified by wounds).
Each figure also has a skill rating (actually, Mastery Level or ML) for each weapon. For the primary weapon, this score is derived from Physique, weapon type, training level and troop type. The rating with a secondary weapon is 10 points lower, and all other weapons are 15 points lower than the primary weapon skill.
When the Mastery Level is known, the character's Attack and Defense factors with a weapon can be calculated. This is a function of Mastery Level, the weapon itself, and armor class.
Players can either use the pre-generated characters, or "roll up" their own soldiers. Generating your own characters will provide a much wider mix than the warrior cards provided. (Note that the pre-generated characters have had their skills rounded for ease of play, and all cards of the same troop type have the same skill scores. The pre-generated characters have higher skill scores than most freshly rolled-up characters.)
For example, here is a character I've just rolled up:
If he survives his first battle, he'll earn himself some skill development rolls. (I could also send him off for some training.) In time, his Initiative and skills will improve… or he'll die.
(Harnmaster players will find that they can use their role-playing characters in BattleLust without translation. As far as character stats go, the miniatures game is simply a subset of the more detailed rules of the role-playing game.)
The Basic Game
In BattleLust, the Manus is the heart of the game. A record is made of the Intiative of each Manus (equal to the leader's Initiative – in the Basic Game, the soldier with the highest Initiative is automatically leader of his Manus). During each round, each Manus takes its turn in Initiative order.
For example, let's say that Player A has four Mani with Initiatives of 55, 64, 68 and 75. Player B has three Mani with Initiatives of 62, 67, 76 and 83. During the next round, they would move in this order:
- Player B moves this Manus first.
- Player B moves again, with this Manus.
- Player A gets his first move of the round.
- Player A moves again.
- Player B moves.
- Player A moves.
- Player B.
- Player A.
If a leader is downed, his Manus will now operate at the Initiative of the next-highest warrior in the group. Thus, the order of turns can change during the game.
The Manus Turn. During each Manus turn, each member of that Manus may take one Action. All figures performing the same Action must do so at the same time (and if Engaging or Charging, all figures taking the action must move before any of their attacks are resolved). The allowed Actions are:
- Free Move
- allows full movement if the enemy is avoided
- allows half movement, ending with an optional Melee Attack
- allows full movement limited to being in a fairly straight line, ending in a mandatory Melee Attack
- allows an engaged warrior to take a half move. No Melee Attack allowed.
- Melee Attack
- an engaged warrior can shuffle, ending with an optional Melee Attack.
- Fire Missile
- allows an unengaged warrior to use his bow or other missile weapon; at a penalty, soldiers can also move when firing.
- allows a warrior to change weapons or pick up a dropped weapon. If engaged, requires a fumble roll.
- Esoteric Option
- allows a warrior to use supernatural powers (requires use of the Hârnmaster supplements)
- Special Action
- Miscellaneous actions, some requiring more than one turn to accomplish. Includes such things as tying a rope, breaking down a door, starting a fire, and so forth.
- This action was intended for use with the advanced Fatigue Rule, which was cut from the game during playtesting. Therefore, this Action serves no purpose in the current game, and can be ignored.
In the Basic Game, no character may voluntarily move more than 10" away from his leader.
When a Melee Attack is made, the player must declare who is being attacked, and which weapon is being used. The defender can Block (use a weapon or shield to stop the attack), Counterstrike (use a weapon to attack the attacker!), or Dodge (evade the attack by moving).
Skill rolls must now be made for each character. For the attacker, this will be an attack roll with his weapon; for the defender, the exact type of roll depends on his chosen response. There are penalties for being outnumbered, injured, or defending from horseback; there is a bonus for attacking from horseback.
If the die roll is less than or equal to the effective skill level, then the roll is successful; otherwise the result is failure. If the roll is a number evenly divisible by 5, then the result is a critical result. Thus, there are four possible results for any roll: Critical Failure, Failure, Success, and Critical Success.
The results of both skill rolls are checked against the Attack Tables to determine what has happened: a hit, block, or miss. If a hit occurs, the strike impact is equal to the weapon's impact plus a bonus given by the Attack Table. Comparing strike impact to the victim's armor class on the Injury Table provides the final result – death, or between 0 and 3 wound points.
A freshly wounded victim must immediately make a Shock Roll to avoid being downed due to blood loss and pain. On a number of dice equal to his current wound points, he must not roll more than his Physique. Each wound point also provides a penalty to skill rolls and movement.
Missile Attacks are conducted somewhat differently. Range is measured after the attack is declared, and attacks must be carried through even if the target is out of range. The target may Block (only if he has a shield) or Dodge, but only if he is facing the attacker.
The attacker's skill roll is based on his Mastery Level with the weapon (not his attack factor), modified by range, wounds, cover, whether he is firing from horseback, and whether he moved this turn.
The results of both skill rolls are checked against the Missile Tables. The possible results are: hit, block (might damage shield), miss (with slight chance to hit adjacent figure), or wild fire (a hit is scored against the nearest figure). If a hit is scored, damage is determined as normal, except that a missile weapon's impact depends on the range.
The rules suggest that it is seldom necessary to keep track of arrow usage, but soldiers should not be allowed to throw unlimited numbers of javelins or throwing axes.
Optional Rules. The Basic Game provides three optional rules – Tactical Advantages, Weapon Damage, and Grappling.
If Tactical Advantages are used, then either character in a Melee Attack can win an immediate Bonus Action. (Some combat results which were formerly "misses" now become "tactical advantages.")
The Weapon Damage rule forces damage rolls when a Block is successfully made; one of the weapons involved might break. Each weapon type is rated for breakage.
The Grappling rule allows a defender to attempt to Grapple his attacker. If a Block result is obtained from the Attack Tables, both warriors become locked in arm-to-arm wrestling. Both characters then make die rolls based on Physique – the winner gains a Tactical Advantage.
The Advanced Rules
The advanced rules are brief (9 pages), covering four subjects: mounted combat, command, morale, and formations.
Mounted Combat. Steeds are either warhorses, war ponies, or palfreys. Each has its own stats (Physique, Initiative, Move, Impact, and Attack Factor – all steeds of a type have identical stats). Players may buy armor for their mounts.
Initiative of a rider is equal to the sum of rider's and steed's Initiative; thus, a Manus of riders usually moves before a Manus of foot. Steeds may jump obstacles, and may have to make Stumble Rolls in the course of movement. Steeds can attack by trampling. When attacked, a rider can either try a standard Dodge, or try a Steed Dodge based on his mount's Dodge factor. When hit, a rider must roll to see if he is unhorsed.
Mounted characters may take a special action – the Mounted Charge. They must move at least their full movement (Trot), and may move up to double their Move (Canter). The rider or steed may attack every enemy they engage during movement. If the rider bypasses an enemy, the opponent may immediately attack the rider or steed. If the rider moves through enemy foot soldiers, the steed may make a trample attack (at a bonus!); the rider may attack the same enemy only if he has a lance. Tactical Advantages are ignored during a Mounted Charge.
Command and Control. At the start of each Manus Turn, the leader of that Manus must issue an order to his men. He can take a half-move before giving the order. He can give an order to any member of his Manus within 10" (5" if he is adjacent to the enemy).
In addition to the Mani leaders, there is now a Company Leader. He may command any friendly soldier within his command radius, regardless of which Manus they belong to.
Characters outside of an eligible leader's command radius are leaderless. They may attempt to give themselves orders, rolling against their individual Initiative.
The possible orders are:
An Initiative roll is made to see if the order is understood by the men. Some orders are easier to give (i.e. Rest, Maneuver) than others (i.e. Charge, Rally). On a Critical Success, the soldiers of that Manus may receive a bonus to their action (for instance, a +10 bonus to the attack, for a Fight order). With a Failure, the order is partially implemented (i.e., only half-move allowed when Maneuvering) or not implemented at all (i.e., the men stand there instead of Disengaging). A Critical Failure results in a rout, disruption, or a morale check (see Morale, below).
Morale. A Morale Check must occasionally be made as a result of a Critical Failure (when ordering to Fight or Charge). An Initiative Roll is made for each soldier. On a Critical Success, the character gains a Bonus Action; on a failure, he retreats (a Fallback or a Rout).
A Fallback may occur due to a Morale Check failure, or due to a failed Rally Order. Affected characters must make a half-move towards the rear, making every effort to avoid the enemy. They must continue to fallback on future turns, unless Rallied.
A Rout is similar to a Fallback, except that characters make a full move instead of a half-move.
Soldiers which are routing or falling back can be ordered to Rally. If the command is successful, the men stop running to the rear. Penalties apply to the Command Roll if the soldiers do not belong to the leader's Manus, or if the characters are routing.
Characters may also become disrupted as a result of a failed Command. They stand around for one turn, and the Manus has a penalty on its next Command Roll.
As an optional rule, characters which suffer a Critical Morale Check result have a chance of going berserk. They ignore Morale Checks, attack without regard for personal safety, and cannot be commanded by their leaders.
Formations. As the game explains, "The typical feudal commander deploys his troops in one long line; mounted knights in the center, footmen behind them, and missile troops on the flanks." However, if the players desire to try something more complex, two formations are allowed:
The Shield Wall consists of a "line" of figures with bases touching (the line can be straight, or curved into a horseshoe or circle). Characters receive a bonus when Blocking missile fire, and attackers lose any melee bonus.
The Spear Wall is also a line of close-order figures, though it can be up to three ranks deep. Mounted warriors cannot engage a Spear Wall, nor may footmen charge a Spear Wall… unless they can flank the formation.
Both formations dissolve after one turn of melee combat. There is a penalty when giving a movement order to men in these formations.
The Campaign World
The world of Hârn, a "low fantasy" medieval world, is the setting for both the Harnmaster role-playing game and BattleLust. An extensive 25-page reference section provides background information for players desiring to recreate battles in Hârn.
The reference section begins with an overview of the nations of Hârn, followed by a detailed discussion of feudalism. A set of data tables allows a player to determine which and how many troops any Hârnic magnate could raise based on fiefs held.
Lists of troop types are then provided for specific Hârnic nations or classes of nations. Stats are provided for "average" characters of each type. There are thorough notes on the organization of each nation's forces, as well as the special duties or characteristics of the various troop types.
Much of this material should be directly applicable to historical medieval campaigns or alternate non-Hârnic fantasy worlds, although it may take some familiarity with Hârn or careful reading to understand how to translate it. For example, BattleLust provides information about the army of the Kingdom of Orbaal. While the ruling Ivinian warriors are clearly Vikings, are the vassal Jarin warriors equivalent to historical Britons?
In a sense, any part of the Hârnmaster fantasy-role playing system can be considered a supplement for BattleLust! The products currently in print include:
- BattleLust Roster Cards (product #8100)
The HârnMaster Role-Playing Game
- Hârnmaster RPG (#4001) [divine intervention/psionics]
- Pilots' Almanac (#4002)
- Hârnmaster Character Sheets (#4101)
- Hârnmaster Character Cards (#4102)
- PathFinder 7mm Hârnmaster Hex Paper (#4103)
- HârnPlayer (#4201)
- Tome of the Shek-Pvar (#4501) [magic/psionics]
- Tome of Lyahvi (Spell Book) (#4502)
- Tome of Peleahn (#4503)
- Tome of Jmorvi (#4504)
- Tome of Fyvria (#4505)
- Tome of Odivshe (#4506)
- Tome of Savorya (#4507)
- Tome of Gray Magic (#4508)
The World of Hârn
- Hârnworld (2nd edition) (#5001)
- Cities of Hârn (2nd edition) (#5002)
- Azadmere (#5004)
- Evael (#5005)
- Kaldor (#5006)
- Chybisa (#5007)
- Orbaal (#5008)
- Tharda (#5009)
- Melderyn (#5013)
- Araka-Kalai (#5014)
- Son of Cities (#5015)
- Castles of Hârn (#5021)
- Castles of Orbaal (#5022)
- Heroth Castle (#5031)
- 100 Bushels of Rye (#5051)
- Staff of Fanon (#5061)
- The Lost City of Kiraz (#5062)
- The Curse of Hlen (#5063)
- Nasty, Brutish, and Short (#5071)
- Menglana (#5102)
- Ibanvaal (#5103)
- Shorkyne (#5201)
- Cities of Shorkyne (#5202)
- Trierzon (#5301)
There are no existing licensed Hârn miniatures.
We asked Columbia Games about painting information:
No painting guidelines exist as such, but in all our Kingdom modules a page (or two) is devoted to the heraldry. It is always in full color, so it could be used to help painters devise appropriate outfits.