We’re on the threshold of a climactic battle, and I’m looking for inspiration on how to handle it mechanically.

The players went to great efforts to recruit top notch talent, spending a whole session on running a tournament to select champions from the combined armies of Keroon, Pelark, and the Bloodlands. The fruits of this labour is a cast of ten named NPCs who have travelled with them to Vault, the liche’s mountain fortress, five of whom are fairly important recurring characters the players care about. The skills they bring are diverse, there are horse archers, a spirit binder, heavily armored, a beloved protege, Princess Medel, etc. These people matter.

The penultimate battle is with the liche’s totally indoctrinated, gifted children. These are basically innocents, variously abducted or sold, but collected from all over and indoctrinated at great effort to create a sorcerous royal guard for the liche. They’ve been taught a variant of White Fire.

As session 34 closed, the players had destroyed the liche’s second Tower of Silence. As the dust begins to clear, they see these so-called Lilies of Darpera picking their way toward them across the rubble. The foreshadowing had been fairly oblique to this point, and I had thought to surprise the players with what was to come next, but I got a very bittersweet feeling of satisfaction when Dallin’s player said, “Be careful, these are likely to be powerful sorceresses.” Which is awesome, because that feels like wonderful license to sow horrible chaos.

The Lilies are going to be a brutal enemy, because the players don’t really want them to die - they’ve fought on several occasions to have Keroon end the practice of sending gifted children to the liche (as a sort of protection money). They’re loyal, but inexperienced. Their White Fire will be miscast as often as not, causing all sorts of havoc, and the Lilies will likely be badly hurt from tax in any case. This battle will be a Pyrrhic victory at best.

The players have basically no experience with RNC (melee campaign so far), and it feels tough to pull it out on them now. I want to somehow honor the flavor of the individual NPCs they went to all the trouble of obtaining - helping dice are all the same, you know?

You could have your players actually run the NPCs as PCs, controlling two characters at the same time. Or maybe invite some friends to the session and have them play the NPCs.

As far this being their first RNC, I think that it’ll be okay. By now your players are very experienced and understand the way BW works. I remember feeling so scared/anxious going into a battle that I wasn’t prepared for, this was exciting and a good thing. Since the Lillies are inexperienced, the players should come out ok.


Is this a legit battle battle? Or is this just a narrative moment?
Is there an enemy commander who can lead a force?
Is there any reason that the PCs should be competent in battle?

Based on your description, it sounds like a moment rather than a battle.

If by ‘battle’ you mean two organized forces meeting, no, it’s not like that at all. The players have no tactical skill among them - individually there are very capable combatants, but they’ve never fought together before (and are an assortment of completely different tactical styles).

The enemy force … no. It’s like somebody dynamited the side of an all-girls school, the teachers are dead, and the terrified students broke open the cache of shotguns. They’re going to as much damage to each other as to the players, which is part of the point, it’s part of the liche’s final ‘fuck you’: attacked by the hostages. Tears, runny noses and brimstone.

Yes, I think it’s not about playing out a tactical combat, but the choices the players make about how to steer things (as best they’re able). The NPC companions to the players have goals that run the gamut, Nywin won’t want either Dallin or the Lilies to get hurt; Medel will want bloodshed, and will try to steer things into a messy confrontation. Hmm.

Okay, thanks!

Is it really about the tactics here? Or is it about the Beliefs? It sounds like the three main things to focus on are:

  1. These NPCs that people care for
  2. The kids who are sorcerous child soldiers, and all the drama from that
  3. Horrible magical death and destruction

With that in mind, consider for both the NPCs and the Lilies:

  • Who will attempt to charge in/be rashly aggressive?
  • Who will stick with whom? Is it friendship? Is it trust? Is it fear? (“Honestly, I swore I would protect you.”)
  • The NPCs- who hasn’t seen this level of sorcery before? Give them a Steel test.
  • The Lilies- who hasn’t seen someone get burned by their sorcery before? Steel test.
  • Who breaks down when their friend gets hurt or killed? Who goes berserk when their friends get hurt or killed?
  • Which NPC is absolutely hardcore and pushes the players to be even more cold and ruthless than they expect? (“If one is injured, you must chop off his hands, or else he will cast again!”)

If you don’t want to do a full R&C, find a way to do a randomized turn order for the major folks involved. The PCs, the NPCs, the Lilies. And simply spring that kind of stuff above. The randomness will give it that, “Oh fuck war is crazy what the fuck is going on” feel.

Maybe let the players spend a Persona or something to skip ahead of the order to interrupt someone else’s action - “You see the child preparing to cast, eyes locked on your friend, who is still dazed from the last attack.” “Crap, I’m going to Charge and Tackle!”

I mean, otherwise, this isn’t really about the tactics of R&C, as much as, who gets hurt, who matters, and who takes it to what level?


Edit: Crossposted- looks like we’re thinking along the same lines! Can’t wait to hear how that turns out.

Sounds like you’ll want to prep a series of problems to deal with in the chaos. Each will, of course, affect the ultimate outcome.

Yeah, I’d make a series of decision points.

Alternately, you could try to use your Battle mechanics, with the GM playing “Chaos of Battle” with the intent “Everyone, on both sides, dies”, and the PCs are fighting to try to stop the bloodshed. The Battle system is pretty good at generating important moments in a larger battle. In fact, I’m wondering if it shouldn’t be modified to more explicitly do that.

Good stuff, guys.

I’m going to focus on the specific challenges to beliefs.

Don’t forget Steel. Those kids will fail steel tests, so will some of the PC’s and their allies. It will be mayhem.