December 17, 2008

The Skill Challenges of War - Part 4: Rally the Troops!

This is Mad Brew again, having been kindly invited by Jonathan to be a guest author for his Skill Challenges of War series. It quite an honor to be able add some cool new content for The Core Mechanic! This next skill challenge offers a little more complexity and variations. I would recommend this both as a story element but also as an option to give players before milestone skill challenges of war to improve their chances.

Here are the previous posts in this series:

Rally the Troops!
The troops hang their heads low and shuffle about the bivouac. The low murmur of muttered complaints and the dejected talk of defeat and worse resonate through the camp. You must reinvigorate the morale of your troops if anyone hopes to survive the next battle [1].
The unit attached to the PCs is suffering from low morale due to [insert reason appropriate to your campaign here: poor food, defeat/retreat, weather, time, etc.]. The players need to rally their troops if they hope to be successful during the impending [insert event appropriate to your campaign here: assault, siege, march, charge, etc.].

Setup: You must squash the fear and depression that have overcome the troops by inspiring them with hope and confidence.

Level: The PCs’ level +1.

Complexity: 2 (requires 6 success before 3 failures).

Primary Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight, Religion.

Bluff (Hard DCs): You try to relieve the troops of their concerns by obscuring the truth about the size, skill, and tactics of the opposing forces and embellishing your own strengths. While lying about the truth of the matter may jumpstart the troops’ spirits, you also risk demoralizing them even more if they see through your scheming. A failure closes off this approach and increases the DCs of other checks to hard for the duration of the challenge.

Diplomacy (Moderate DCs): You make an inspiring speech about how your cause, emphasizing your troops’ strengths, remarking on past heroic deeds, and giving hope. You speak about unity and brotherhood and try to get the troops motivated.

Insight (Moderate DCs): You try to discover what worries your troops the most, the biggest dissenters (and silence them), and what will be the best motivation for your forces. This approach may only be attempted once. A success on this approach not only counts as a success but also confers a +2 bonus to the next check. A failure on this approach not only counts as a failure but also confers a -2 penalty to the next check.

Religion (Moderate DCs): You have the chaplain perform a ceremony to bless the troops on their future endeavors. The troops either take heart the gods are with them or on a failure, are convinced that the gods have turned their backs on them.

Success: The PCs have managed to boost the spirits of their troops and they are much more motivated to take on the next event in the war/battle. This success will mean the PCs have a minor advantage in the next skill challenge that includes these troops.

Failure: The PCs have failed to rally the troops so they are not motivated to continue. This means the PCs will have a minor disadvantage in the next skill challenge that involves these troops.

[1] Roman Army image courtesy of the Public Domain


  1. Hopefully my interpretation of this into a d6 world is as good as this!

  2. Thanks for the ego boost! When Jonathan presented the idea of collaborating on these skill challenges with Gamefiend from At-Will I was totally stoked. I think between the three of us we have come up with some very interesting stuff.

    When you get that d6 conversion for Shadowrun working, let us know!


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