Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Company

[This was supposed to be an overview of military unit structure in the campaign as a prelude for introducing the Level system wit regard to the military.  Instead I may have gotten carried away just describing the company.  Note that the game is not as complicated as this makes it out.  Again it is a simple [?] expansion of four lines on one table. Caveat lector.]

The Company

A Company is the basic tactical unit in the game.  For ease of use, a full-strength Company is defined as a unit of 120 infantry or 60 cavalry, since both of these effectively have the same frontage. Since cavalry is generally the more socially prestigious unit, they are generally commanded by a Senior Captain [Level 6 Military], whilst non-Guards infantry units are generally commanded by a Junior Captain [Level 5 Military].  In both cases the standard mode of address is "captain."

With non-human troops it is the size of the creature that determines how many creatures form a company.  If the creature has handlers, mahouts, or carries other soldiers they are not considered a part of this calculation.  So a company of war elephants (gigantic) consists of just 5 elephants (although each will ridden into battle by a mahout and carry a number of soldiers in a fighting platform on its back.

  • Tiny creatures cannot form companies.  [Unless they are battling other tiny creatures, in which case treat everything as if they were normal human sized and make everyone else larger.]
  • A small creature counts as 1/3rd of a normal soldier (360 per company).  [Note that traditional goblins (in particular but not exclusively), while they count as being small creatures for most purposes, do not count as being small creatures for this categorisation. And they will ripe the tripes out of anyone that thinks so.  Similarly if you campaign is unfortunate enough to be plagued with traditional hobbitses (they died on an as yet undiscovered island many eons ago) then they do not count as small if equipped with either Reach (spears or great weapons) or Missile weapons.]
  • A large creature counts as 2 normal soldiers (60 per company).
  • A huge creature counts as 6 normal soldiers (20 per company).
  • A gigantic creature counts as 24 normal soldiers (5 per company).
  • A colossal creature counts as 120 normal soldiers (1 per company).

A company will have a number of junior officers who assist the captain in leading the troops.  This will consists of two or three Lieutenants [Level 4 Military].  These lieutenants help organise the company on the field of battle.  A company without the minimum of two lieutenants will suffer a -1 penalty on both Morale and Readiness rolls.

A company will have a number of Sergeants [Level 3 Military] who maintain discipline within the unit. Unlike the case with more modern armies, sergeants do not manage the battlefield so much as they march behind the other soldiers in the company (in a supernumerary rank), and make sure they don't run.  Thus large and burly individuals who can handle themselves in a fistfight tend to be preferred for the role.  A full strength company will usually have six sergeants and a Sergeant Major [Level 4 Military] (who may act as a Lieutenant in an emergency).  If a company drops to having less than three sergeants it suffers a -1 penalty to Morale and Readiness rolls.

Note [1]: Elite Troops (such as knights and samurai) do not require sergeants because they are already Level 3 Military, and are assumed to be self-disciplining.

A company will generally have veteran Corporals [Level 2 Military] who act as file leaders.  Their major role is to organise the activities of their file (or maniple), especially in camp.  The extra material required for a file to operate on campaign is shared out amongst the members of the file, so that  one soldier has the cook pot, another carries half the tent, and so on.  Files tend to do everything together - eat, sleep, carouse, and fight.

Note [2]: A Corporal only has any actual authority in a Militia Company (or Watch), because Regular Troops are already Level 2 Military.  This doesn't mean that regular troops don't have file leaders - it's just that they are simply one of the soldiers as far as most people are concerned. Although they do have effective authority over Recruits (who are considered to be Level 1 Military).  A Militia which lacks sufficient Corporals loses it's Militia status and gets demoted to being a simple Levy.  Essentially a Militia is only a Militia because of the leavening of corporals.

Note [3]: Amongst Elite Troops [level 3 Military] a Corporal is a subordinate. Their job in the file (although it is more traditionally called a Spear in this respect), is to see that the needs of the actual soldiers are taken care of.  Including the replacement of lost lances - hence the evolution of the modern rank of "lance corporal." Another name for a Corporal amongst Elite Troops is a Squire, and their role in battle (and tourney) is generally a supportive one, and not a combat role.

A company will generally have a number of specialists attached to them.  These are considered to be Warrant Officers [Level 4 Military] when operating in the company, but their Social Rank will normally by based on their civilian rank (Guild Level or Commoner Level) unless they do something particularly stupid and end up being mentioned in dispatches.  Most of these specialist will be Masters [Level 3 Guild or Commons], and will be assisted by the appropriate Journeymen [Level 2 Guild], Foremen [Level 2 Commons], Apprentices [Level 1 Guild], and Workers [Level 1 Commons]

  • Quartermaster: The quartermaster looks after the company's consumable supplies, including storage and transport of same.  A company without a quartermaster has a -1 penalty to Morale and Readiness rolls in garrison as the troops have to fend for themselves. On campaign (or when deployed) this penalty increases to -3.  The unit will also be required to forage whilst on campaign (with the appropriate movement, combat, and morale penalties, as well as ransacking the terrain in which they are travelling if supplies cannot or will not be purchased).

    Having a good quartermaster allows them to add their Proficiency Bonus to both Morale and Readiness (as an army marches on its stomach).  Note that historically, in some militaries, a civilian paid the captain to be the company's quartermaster, and then shortchanged the soldiers on their supplies and pocketed the difference.  This was particularly true with national armies with conscript troops who would be hanged if they complained (or tried to return to civilian life).  A company with such a quartermaster doubles the penalties for not having a quartermaster.  The Proficiency Bonus increases both the quartermasters' and the captain's income instead.
  • Armourer: The armourer ensures that the company's weapons and armour are maintained (and damaged weapons replaced).  In a company without an armourer the individual soldiers will have to maintain their own equipment (this was generally the historical standard), and will suffer a -1 penalty to Morale and Readiness rolls.  If the company has an armourer then they suffer no morale penalty and may increase their Readiness rolls by the Proficiency Bonus of the armourer.  Also the officers may naturally purchase appropriate magic weapons at a discounted rate from the company armourer [For a typical master armourer this would be a plain ordinary +1 sword, so there is no need to get overly excited.]  However such an armourer would generally be too busy to do outside commissions.
  • Surgeon:  The surgeon ensures that the company's wounded are looked after (and that general health matters such as the proper use of latrines is observed).  A company without a surgeon suffers a -1 penalty to Morale and Readiness rolls.  A company with a surgeon suffers no penalty to morale and may add the Proficiency Bonus to Readiness rolls. In addition the members of the company may use the surgeon's Proficiency Bonus when saving against disease whilst on campaign, and when recovering from wounds.  [Note that a surgeon's bonus drops to +0 if the company has a corrupt quartermaster since good food and medical supplies would not be available.]  Note that if the surgeon is a Healer (capable of using magic to assist recovery), then the Proficiency Bonus is added to the company's Morale as well.
  • Chaplain:  The chaplain looks after the moral rectitude of the company and ensures that religious observances are held.  If the company is religious then the lack of a chaplain imposes a -1 penalty to both Morale and Readiness.  If they have a chaplain, then they may add their Proficiency Bonus to both Morale and Readiness rolls.  If the company is defined as non-religious, then the lack of a sky-pilot imposes no penalty, but neither does the presence of one give a bonus.
  • Magician: This is very campaign dependent.  If the company is unlikely to encounter magic on the battlefield then the presence of a mage will probably cause a -1 penalty to Morale and Readiness, because ... magic.  If on the other hand if magic is a standard part of the military arsenal then the lack of a company magician will impose a -1 penalty to Morale and Readiness.

    A military mage ensures that the companies regalia is properly maintained so that it may help maintain the company's magical integrity on the battlefield.  They are also responsible for performing auguries and eradication of inadvertent curses (and also may be the Chaplain if the priesthood has magical powers in the game). The presence of a company magician will add their Proficiency Bonus to Morale and to saving throws against magic.

    The offensive role of magic is dealt with by the Magical Combat Support Group (see Combat Groups), not the company magician.  Although the leader of a MCSG can act as a company magician for the purposes of eliminating the penalty for not having a company magician.

    [In my game a military unit is difficult to affect magically because it is too large.  It presents a unified target magically, especially since the standards of the company are usually defensive magic items.  It is only when the unit is broken, that it becomes a group of individuals and thus a much easier magical target.  This, plus the effects of enemy mages supressing all magic, tends to mean that national matters are still solved on the battlefield with troops rather than between magic users. Besides, most mages find politics a distraction from what is important - learning more magic ("you just can't stop at one spell!").]
  • Marshal:  A marshal is responsible for training new troops.  The lack of new troops mean that the company will not be able to train their own replacements (and will suffer a -1 penalty on Readiness rolls).  The marshal may apply their Proficiency Bonus to recruitment, replacement, and training rolls.   On campaign a marshal and his assistants "commands" the excess troops that serves as replacements for any casualties. These excess troops do not participate in the battle, so if a company consisted of 140 light infantry, 20 of those light infantry would stay behind to guard the baggage train and camp followers under the Marshal.  If there was no Marshal they would suffer a -1 penalty to Morale and Command throws were they to be attacked.

If an officer or non-commissioned officer has an expertise associated with one of these specialities then they may negate the penalty for not having a specialist, but they will be too busy performing their own duties to provide the normal Proficiency Bonus (however they may use their Proficiency Bonus when hiring the appropriate specialist).  Similarly, if their home domain has these specialities as part of the Domain (for example the noble that raised the Company has an armourer), they do not suffer any of the associated penalties until a month after they have left the Domain or until after their first battle, whichever comes first.

A company will usually be accompanied (even on campaign) by camp followers, many of which will perform services like laundry and cooking for the troops.  And well, servicing the troops.  However the presence of camp followers will slow an company down considerably.

A Company counts as a Military Domain of the appropriate Level.  Raising a Company depends on the milieu of the campaign.  Mercenary companies make good mobile Domains.  Note that in most cases nobles (or others) will only hire mercenary companies, rather than independent mercenaries, and pay the captain.  And the loyalty of mercenary troops is usually to their paymaster.  Mercenaries prefer escort, guard, and similar missions where the possibility of combat is minimised.  They do not look eagerly on taking part in battles.  However reputation is vital, both personal and as a unit.

Company Deployments

When a company deploys on the battlefield they do so as a single unit, with the captain leading from front and centre, with the lieutenants leading from the front on each wing (mainly being responsible for relaying orders from the captain and ensuring the wing manoeuvres appropriately), and with the sergeants marching behind (to ensure that nobody suddenly sees sweet reason on their first battle and decides discretion is the only part of valour).

Outside the battlefield they may deploy as various sub-units.  However while independent commands, these cannot generally perform independent operations during war.

  • A platoon is generally composed of 30 soldiers, under the command of a lieutenant and accompanied by two sergeants.  They may be sent to scout or patrol, to secure a location, or to escort a VIP.  In peacetime they are capable of reasonably independent operation.
  • A troop (if cavalry) or section (if infantry) of 15 soldiers, usually under the command of a lieutenant or sergeant.  They are generally limited to watch and guard operations where they are not generally expected to encounter enemy troops without the rest of the company being available for backup.  One particularly important duty of a section may be that of the captain's personal bodyguard, which is usually personally lead by the sergeant major.
  • As mentioned previously a file or maniple is primarily a logistical unit of between 5 to 10 soldiers who do everything together.  For ease of vertical integration with the sub-units mentioned above, we will consider a standard file to be five soldiers (a corporal, two other veterans and the remainder being trained recruits; green units will have less veterans and experienced units more veterans, but there is usually at least one newbie per maniple - a casualty replacement if nothing else). Note that these recruits are considered to be 2HD soldiers if they are Regulars, like the other members of their file  - they are just unbloodied (and usually too enthusiastic at this stage of their careers, not having seen The Beast up close).

One should also mention that double-strength companies can often be found, especially amongst cavalry units (to bring the number of soldiers in the company up to the magical number of 120).  For example in a late period Roman Legion (an Army [to be covered later]) the attached unit of Roman Cavalry (the equites legionis) was 120 men strong, and that the four companies of the first cohort (a Regiment [see later]) were also double-strength).  The best way of handling these is to consider them to be the Battalions [see later] that they are in reality. Including the ability to deploy as two separate Company-sized units.

Note [4]:  And yes, my dear pedants, I am quite aware that a Roman Century (or centuriae) was traditionally 80 men and a traditional cohort consisted of six  centuries.  But that doesn't fit into my classification schema anywhere near as well as having a traditional cohort consist of four companies of 120 men does. I have, in a word, taken liberties.  So there.

Whilst the commander of such a unit may use the traditional rank of "captain," they are effectively a Major [Level 7 Military] (if cavalry) or Senior Captain [Level 6 Military] (if infantry).  Similarly their two "lieutenants" are considered either a Senior Captain [Level 6 Military] (if cavalry) or Junior Captain [Level 5 Military] (if infantry).  Each "lieutenant" will be assisted by two Ensigns or Sub-Lieutenants [Level 4 Military] who normally perform the duties of a Lieutenant [Level 4 Military].

Note [5]: One of the things I really wanted to do was model the historical chaos where any commander was a "captain" and the troops under their command a "company" regardless of their size. However I suspect that for the purposes of building a rule set stricter definitions are probably better. 


I'd like to thank ACKS's Domains of War for the push to bring my system up to using 120 men companies rather than my previous 100 man companies.  And for their size/human-equivalent definitions (although I did add to them).  Also for their use of morale for having an insufficiency of warrant officers.  It is an excellent and highly recommended system that I did contemplate using myself.  But didn't.

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