Tactics Skill

The Tactics Skill has the benefit of not only making combat more realistic, but it also adds a new dimension to combat.  Tactics is an Intelligence Skill, and can be used in a variety of different ways.  One of these uses can allow PCs and NPCs to communicate commands to one another in the heat of battle.  A player with training in Tactics has learned some nonverbal ways to communicate during battle.  These gestures can be used to communicate with anyone.  This allows the Dungeon Master to run realistic battle scenes where the Players cannot openly strategize unless they wish to alert the enemies to their plans.  The basic difficulties I use are as follows:

  • Communicating simple commands to a  well-known ally with Tactics training:
  • DC 12 – 14 (go left, attack, etc.)
  • Communicating simple commands to untrained allies:
  •  DC 15 – 18

  • Communicating complex commands to an ally with training:
  • DC 16 – 20 (flank someone, cast a specific spell, etc.)
  • Communicating complex commands to an ally without training:
  • DC 19 – 24

  • Communicating with someone unfamiliar with your gestures and commands:
  • DC 16 – 24

  • Communicating with a race that possesses grossly different anatomy:
  •  DC 18 – 26 (a race that doesn’t have hands, fingers, etc.)

Additionally, two allies with Tactics training that have been adventuring together for a long while and are familiar with each other’s commands will probably not require any roll at all for most commands except the most complex.  This Skill can also be used to interpret an enemies nonverbal commands.  The DC is simply higher than whatever the NPC rolled.

Aside from this use of the Skill, I also allow rolls before and during combat for other things.  Anyone with training in the Tactics Skill has the chance of guessing at the enemies tactics.  A roll of DC 15 and higher (depending on how common the enemy race/combat style is) can grant various bonuses to the character and his allies during battle.  If the Skill is rolled before a battle takes place I will grant the following bonuses depending on how much their roll beats the DC by:

Beats DC by 0 – 4:      +1 attack for 2 rounds
Beats DC by 5 – 9:      +1 attack and AC for 2 rounds
Beast DC by 10 – 14:  +1 attack and AC for 3 rounds
Beast DC by 15+:        +2 attack and AC for 3 rounds

These bonuses apply to both the character and his allies, so long as he has at least 1 full minute to speak with them before the battle begins, otherwise they apply only the character.  If Tactics is used during a battle, the character using the Skill must make an opposed roll against the enemy Leader.  If the character wins they receive the same above bonuses.  They may attempt this roll every third round, but after the first attempt, whether trained or not, the enemy makes an opposed roll with a +3 cumulative bonus each additional time it is used (+3 on the second attempt, +6 on the third, etc.).

In place of offering bonuses you may also wish to reveal one of the most likely plans of attack the enemy might use.  For example, you might say that some particular soldiers are trying to push enemies into advantageous flanking positions instead of offering bonuses.  If I’m feeling particularly fiendish (or if the PC has a particularly terrible roll), I will occasionally give bonuses or Attacks of Opportunity to the enemies instead.  The rationale being that the PC has had such a terrible tactical mistep that they leave a perfect opening for the enemy.

One Response to Tactics Skill

  1. Pingback: A Battle for the Ages: Mass Combat in D&D | Ask the Dungeon Master

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