What are the D&D rules for "Command"?

“You think your people will be free? You think you have escaped me? You mortals will have nothing but war, not a moment of peace until a new God of War rises to replace me.” Discuss the Sundered Empire featured in the Chainmail campaign setting, as it relates to pen & paper RPGs, here.

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What are the D&D rules for "Command"?

Postby Big Mac » Sun Aug 21, 2016 11:29 am

The "Command" thing in Chainmail has been nagging me. I know it's not "Leadership", but it's something similar.

Here is what the Chainmail Core Rulebook: Chapter 1: The Godwar says about common soldiers:
Chainmail Core Rulebook: Chapter 1: The Godwar wrote:The dead god’s promise of war unfettered has come true. It is now the fifth year of the Godwar. The only thing preventing universal apocalypse is the supernatural chaos left in the wake of Stratis’s fall. This turmoil hinders armies of thousands from mustering, much less marching against enemies. Common soldiers no longer remember orders without their commanders’ constant presence; they lose themselves to the frenzy of war instead of its efficient execution. Decisive warfare is now possible only with bands of elite combatants who can maintain their focus and cohesion. These same small bands spearhead the search for Stratis’s scattered panoply.


That doesn't really explain the in game effects (aside from you can't have a big army). But here is what Chapter 4: Skirmishes says:
Chainmail Core Rulebook: Chapter 4: Skirmishes wrote:MANEUVER (OUT OF COMMAND)
A model that maneuvers while out of command must move at full speed (up to twice its speed) toward its destination. It cannot stop moving until it reaches its destination or has moved twice its speed. An out of command model has several possible destinations, and certain special cases allow (or force) it to move less than full speed.

Destination: Nearest Enemy Model
If the out of command model has line of sight to one or more enemy models, it must maneuver full speed toward the nearest enemy model to which it has line of sight (if it maneuvers at all). It stops when it has moved twice its speed or when it makes melee contact against the model toward which it is advancing. (Usually a model makes melee contact against an enemy model when it touches the enemy model’s base. A model with the Reach 1 ̋ special ability, however, makes melee contact when it’s an inch away.)

<snip>

Destination: Focus Point
If the out of command model does not have line of sight to any enemy models, and it does not have proximity awareness to any enemy models, then it must move full speed toward the focus point of the battlefield (if it maneuvers at all). It stops when it has moved twice its speed or when it touches the focus point. For most scenarios, the center of the battlefield is the focus point.


Essentially, wars don't work the way they used to before Stratis was killed, because all the soldiers now rush at their enemies and attack. And if they can't see their enemies, they all run towards the centre of the battlefield and start attacking who ever turns up.

I'm not entirely sure how "battle" is defined in the Sundered Empire, so I'm not sure if this would only happen to people in armour marching in formation or if some sort of runaway xenophobia would cause people to fight to the death if the wrong person walked into a pub, but given that there are cross-faction rules, I'm guessing that people do not always have to fight...but that once a fight starts everyone (or at least everyone without "Command") will start fighting unless brought under command and ordered to stop fighting.

Chapter 6: Special Abilites and Spells has something about Commanders:
Chainmail Core Rulebook: Chapter 6: Special Abilites and Spells wrote:Commander [#]
Thalos has the most command capacity, and Ravilla has the least.
This model is a commander, not a troop. It has the listed number of command points.
Commanders can issue orders and spend their listed number of command points each round (see Orders in Chapter 4: Skirmishes).


There also seems to be something about "independent troops":
Chainmail Core Rulebook: Chapter 6: Special Abilites and Spells wrote:Independent Troop [#]
Gray Elf Duelists are canny combatants, requiring no commander to lead them.
This model can maneuver and rally freely, as a commander can. A commander does not have to issue this model an order for it to be under command.
If the Independent Troop rating is greater than 0, the model has the listed number of “independence points,” which it can
use to issue orders to itself (only), just as though it were a commander with that many command points.


I'm not sure if any of the later models have been made into "independent troops". The Battlesheets do not seem to mention this. Plus, looking through the Battlesheets, most of the miniatures that do have "Command" don't have anything listed either.

Clearly, most of the combatants that move around the Sundered Empire lack the Commander and/or Independent Troop ability, in Chainmail rules. So I think that NPCs should probably also behave in a similar way if a fight breaks out in a D&D game set in the Sundered Empire.

Taking a bit of inspiration from Keith Baker's "Action Points" for Eberron, I'm wondering if Chainmail needs to have something along the lines of "Command Points" created for it, with all PCs automatically gaining "Command Points" and NPCs gaining "Command Points" if certain conditions are met.

I think that the Leadership feat would need to stack with "Command Points" or whatever mechanic was created to represent the ability to stop NPCs from running off to fight to the death.

I think I might need to go through all the models to make a list of what has Command to work out what's going on, with each faction.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
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Re: What are the D&D rules for "Command"?

Postby Icarus » Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:58 am

I would just use Morale rules, and add a miscellaneous modifier to the check based on more, or less, command depending on if there's a commander-type NPC around, or not.
There's plenty of methods for doing so, both old and new.
The Miniatures Handbook even has ones that were written in the 3.5 era.
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Re: What are the D&D rules for "Command"?

Postby Big Mac » Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:11 pm

Icarus wrote:I would just use Morale rules, and add a miscellaneous modifier to the check based on more, or less, command depending on if there's a commander-type NPC around, or not.


I'm not sure it's the same thing as Morale. With Moral, NPCs that fail their save run away. With this NPCs are forced attack the closest opponent. It's more like a barbarian rage, in some ways.

Icarus wrote:There's plenty of methods for doing so, both old and new.
The Miniatures Handbook even has ones that were written in the 3.5 era.


I need to have a look at a few of these systems and see which one matches the vibe of the Chainmail skirmish rules the closest.
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Re: What are the D&D rules for "Command"?

Postby Icarus » Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:44 pm

Big Mac wrote:I'm not sure it's the same thing as Morale. With Moral, NPCs that fail their save run away. With this NPCs are forced attack the closest opponent. It's more like a barbarian rage, in some ways.

So, I guess I'm a little confused, here. ... in the Chainmail miniatures game, it is possible to rout an enemy, which is easiest to do to a miniature which is out of command. ...
I s'pose that one could look at the mechanic of attacking the nearest enemy miniature as an effect similar to a rage, but, that's not quite it, from my POV. It's because they don't have someone telling them what to do, so they just do whatever is most convenient. Just like in real world battlefields, units that don't have a commander just attack whatever attacks them, or whatever is the most immediate threat. But, with a commander, they can use tactics and strategy.
...
But, this isn't to say you can't look at it however you like. I follow the reasoning that it's comparable to a Rage because of immediate targets.
I suggested Morale, though, not so much about attacking targets, but how to mimic the Command function of the minis game.
Another possible source for reference about how Command could function could the the Marshal class' Aura (ex) ability. That gives a range and such, and is a little more in depth.
At any rate, the Command Point thing you mentioned ... that's already the way Command works. A Commander can direct a certain number of other troops at a time. So, things like centaurs which are difficult to command are more rare in battle, because if replaced with other troops, the commander can direct more troops at once rather than a single centaur.
Miniatures Handbook,Ch.6, p. 154 wrote:Command Point: Each commander gets a supply of command points that it can spend each round. The number of command points equals the creature’s Commander rating. Commanders use command points to put units under command, issue special orders, and challenge initiative. You can’t save command points from one round to the next; unspent points are lost. Command points replenish at the beginning of each round.

If a unit is a commander, it has it listed in its stats ... but, you've already seen that, because you mention it in your post.
As far as how that translates to D&D, rather than the miniatures game, I would say that it's pretty much a direct port. ... I would agree that PCs and some NPCs should probably be given Command Points, and it is certainly influenced by a charcter having the Leadership feat. There's rules in the Miniatures Handbook for this, as well as for what raises and lowers the number of points a character would have.
Miniatures Handbook, Ch.4, p,81 wrote:Creatures with levels in one or more classes or prestige classes can be commanders. Very intelligent and powerful monsters might be commanders even without classes, such as the Mind Flayer.
There’s no hard and fast rule for working out a creature’s Commander rating, but you can make a rough determination using the following lists. Start with a base rating of 1, then add 1 for each property under Higher Commander Rating that the creature possesses and subtract 1 for each property under Lower Commander Rating that the creature possesses.
This system can’t advise you on whether to make a creature into a commander. That depends on your vision for the creature and its role in the battle. If a creature is a commander, give it a Commander Effect. You can choose a Commander Effect possessed by one of the other commanders in its faction or invent one along similar lines.

Higher Commander Rating
  • Lawful alignment
  • Int 13 or higher
  • Wis 13 or higher
  • Cha 13 or higher
  • 5 ranks in Intimidate or Diplomacy
  • Leadership feat
  • Paladin or fighter
  • Character level 6th or higher
Lower Commander Rating
  • Chaotic alignment
  • Int 8 or less
  • Wis 8 or less
  • Cha 8 or less
  • Rogue, sorcerer, or wizard
  • Character level 1st or 2nd
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Re: What are the D&D rules for "Command"?

Postby Big Mac » Thu Sep 29, 2016 9:52 am

Icarus wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I'm not sure it's the same thing as Morale. With Moral, NPCs that fail their save run away. With this NPCs are forced attack the closest opponent. It's more like a barbarian rage, in some ways.

So, I guess I'm a little confused, here. ... in the Chainmail miniatures game, it is possible to rout an enemy, which is easiest to do to a miniature which is out of command. ...


It is? So people don't fight to the death then. I think that they didn't really explain this very well as they only needed people to understand how group on group skirmishes work. Or maybe its just because I've not done enough book-flipping to work out how the rules interact and overide each other yet.

Icarus wrote:I s'pose that one could look at the mechanic of attacking the nearest enemy miniature as an effect similar to a rage, but, that's not quite it, from my POV. It's because they don't have someone telling them what to do, so they just do whatever is most convenient. Just like in real world battlefields, units that don't have a commander just attack whatever attacks them, or whatever is the most immediate threat. But, with a commander, they can use tactics and strategy.


Righto. So its a sort of watered-down rage, then. Because this is an effect that does not apply to the Flanaess. So it has to somehow be different to what would have happened in the Greyhawk Wars.

I wonder if the range of the commander and the number of people they can command is what makes this different. :?

Perhaps a similar combat in the Flanaess could have troops in large scale formations who are able to use tactics and strategy, so long as they stay in visual contact with their commanders, but these same tactics fail in the Sundered Empire, with the units at the edges of the formation loosing their ability to follow orders (or loosing their faith in the ability of their commander) and needing constant supervision.

Icarus wrote:But, this isn't to say you can't look at it however you like. I follow the reasoning that it's comparable to a Rage because of immediate targets.
I suggested Morale, though, not so much about attacking targets, but how to mimic the Command function of the minis game.
Another possible source for reference about how Command could function could the the Marshal class' Aura (ex) ability. That gives a range and such, and is a little more in depth.


I've not got rage nailed down. Rage tends to provide bonuses and I don't think that is what Stratis intended. Perhaps this is something midway between the Rage rules and the Morale rules. :?

Icarus wrote:At any rate, the Command Point thing you mentioned ... that's already the way Command works. A Commander can direct a certain number of other troops at a time. So, things like centaurs which are difficult to command are more rare in battle, because if replaced with other troops, the commander can direct more troops at once rather than a single centaur.
Miniatures Handbook,Ch.6, p. 154 wrote:Command Point: Each commander gets a supply of command points that it can spend each round. The number of command points equals the creature’s Commander rating. Commanders use command points to put units under command, issue special orders, and challenge initiative. You can’t save command points from one round to the next; unspent points are lost. Command points replenish at the beginning of each round.

If a unit is a commander, it has it listed in its stats ... but, you've already seen that, because you mention it in your post.
As far as how that translates to D&D, rather than the miniatures game, I would say that it's pretty much a direct port. ... I would agree that PCs and some NPCs should probably be given Command Points, and it is certainly influenced by a charcter having the Leadership feat. There's rules in the Miniatures Handbook for this, as well as for what raises and lowers the number of points a character would have.


Oh, yes. I see those. But those are specific examples.

What I am trying to do is try to infer the logic behind those examples, so that I can extrapolate command values for NPCs or monsters that are imported into a Chainmail game. Otherwise I would have to mostly stick to things that exist in those given stats. That's where I am still a bit confused. :?

Icarus wrote:
Miniatures Handbook, Ch.4, p,81 wrote:Creatures with levels in one or more classes or prestige classes can be commanders. Very intelligent and powerful monsters might be commanders even without classes, such as the Mind Flayer.
There’s no hard and fast rule for working out a creature’s Commander rating, but you can make a rough determination using the following lists. Start with a base rating of 1, then add 1 for each property under Higher Commander Rating that the creature possesses and subtract 1 for each property under Lower Commander Rating that the creature possesses.
This system can’t advise you on whether to make a creature into a commander. That depends on your vision for the creature and its role in the battle. If a creature is a commander, give it a Commander Effect. You can choose a Commander Effect possessed by one of the other commanders in its faction or invent one along similar lines.

Higher Commander Rating
  • Lawful alignment
  • Int 13 or higher
  • Wis 13 or higher
  • Cha 13 or higher
  • 5 ranks in Intimidate or Diplomacy
  • Leadership feat
  • Paladin or fighter
  • Character level 6th or higher
Lower Commander Rating
  • Chaotic alignment
  • Int 8 or less
  • Wis 8 or less
  • Cha 8 or less
  • Rogue, sorcerer, or wizard
  • Character level 1st or 2nd


Thanks for this. This is the exact thing I needed to find to translate Command from the skirmish rules to tabletop rules.

As you said, this isn't a hard and fast rule, but it means that if I want to make NPCs that are obviously "out of command" and vulnerable to fighting I can go for the Lower Command Rating features. And if I want to create NPC commanders, I can make sure they have some or all of the Higher Command Rating features. :D

What I do find interesting is that Fighters and Paladins are more likely to be commanders (I shouldn't be surprised at that) and rogues, sorcerers and wizards are less likely to be commanders. That's useful, because it means that I can have low-level wizards who are prone to fighting and create some NPC wizards who have enough Higher Command Rating features to balance out their class.

It also means that, when Chainmail PCs rise to higher levels and fight bigger groups, they are going to start coming up against warbands where more of the NPCs have ained enough combat experience to retain command of themselves.

I'll have to think on this. But, I think this is going to help me with the vibe of Chainmail. :D

I was thinking I was going to have to go through every mini, work out the command rating and then try to find a way to extrapolate these rules.

Thanks again!

I might try to sort this stuff out, into a more logical order. (I think I would need a mini "Player's Guild to the Sundered Empire" handout to go with my Chainmail collection.)
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