Sodalis ?, and circling up an army on the spot

Question the first: What do y’all see as the baseline training for the Sodalis and how does it compare to your standard Anvil? The LPs look similar; we just noticed in a mock combat last night that Sodalis gets Anvil-Trained as well. But what about deployment, equipment, doctrine, etc? Are Sodalis just Anvil in drag?

And the second: In our little mock combat (I was using it both to show off Firefight! as well as the scene economy), I posited that the invader had just shown up on the doorstep of the player’s town with her army (Anvil Lord, 2d affiliation), and that it was up to the player’s Cotar Fomas – again, for the purpose of the demo – to circle up a defense force on the spot. Not a problem, numbers wise: Ob1 to start, +1 for uncommon profession, +1 for lesser-ranked dudes, +1 for Exp 4 in all the relevant stuff, +1 for Circling at start of the conflict. He throws the dice, gets his force, even names it so he can call upon them more easily in the future.

Now…what if my NPC is angling for a larger force than what she believes the PC “should” have? What if the PC wants to circle up a larger defensive force than what I’ve declared I’m bringing? The volume of the force isn’t a factor in the Circles roll; for our demo, we agreed to even forces and got on with it.

Right now I assume it’s pure negotiation – what could the Cotar Fomas reasonably have available to him in this town, or could quickly call upon to handle a sudden ambush – but bringing overwhelming force to bear sure seems like it should be a strategic, not narrative, decision.


This is an appealing question! It could set up a whole series of scenes. It’s certainly reasonable to increase the Obstacle based on the size of the force desired, and then resolve the question in a single Circles roll. The size/obstacle link would be relative to the scale of the game or the conflict and the role of the PC. I could also see requiring some kind of negotiation to achieve agreement with various factions before conducting the Circles roll. A DoW where the stakes are the size of the force available and timing; where a compromise changes the force size and/or the timing. Or a Resources test to see what size force can be funded–there are plenty of recruits, but they’ve got to be trained and equipped. It sounds almost like real-life!

Outnumbering your opponent is a big thing in a BE Firefight. In our game, we call it “concentration of forces.” Whenever a player wants to use his concentration of forces to outnumber his opponent, we use that as a Strategy or Logistics versus test pre Firefight. It’s not a linked test. Success indicates that you get the Firefight dispo bonus.


Ah! That’s a nice idea, Luke. Thanks! Much cleaner than adding another Ob to the Circles check. Do you think, in the event a character mistimes his scenes and gets jumped, it would still be fair to conduct this Strategy/Logistics pre-test (sounds similar to the Ambush pre-test) even w/o the Circles roll yet conducted?

I’m contemplating the joy of coordinating a BIG defense force … and then invoking the Enmity Clause. “Aaugh! We’ve been betrayed!”


Maybe. Really depends on the action. If there’s legitimate cause – due to an Instinct or previous builder, go for it – otherwise, no. Or, if you don’t like saying no, hit 'em with a hefty disadvantage.

Hey, Paul, Abzu: This whole “coming up with opposing forces for a Firefight” thing has been bothering me a little of late. Reading through the rules, it seems Circles is only for “contacts” - individuals - and you can only get away with using Resources if you’re hiring a unit of mercenaries. It seems there’s no mechanical arbiter, no obvious one anyway.

I think I’ve come around to how it’s meant to be done: Group consensus, based on Affiliations and other already-established elements of the world. If one combatant says “I’ve got a couple of squads of iron”, it’s up to the group to judge that statement based on the character, his affiliations, lifepaths, what he’s been up to (i.e. what the player has already fixed into the story) and the given situation. Specific bonuses for contact or disposition are more likely to require a linked test in a previous building scene, but sometimes the group will say “well, yeah, it does make sense that you’d have that advantage. Cool beans.” Dont Be A Dick in action!

So if the players are raiding the OPRC prison on Omac and it’s been established that they’ve the element of surprise, the GM saying “I’ve got a couple of squads of iron” will most likely be shot down. However, if the GM made some canny building rolls, had the warden discover the players’ secret plan and then promptly butter up the Lord Steward, then the group might discuss it a bit before making a call, or demand a roll to see whether they’re in the right part of the prison complex.

Resources rolls are for upgrading the acceptable (or what’s already been accepted); i.e. buying AT2 armour and rifles for gaurds normally in AT1 and carrying jack guns (maybe). Circles might be for putting a hard-arsed mercenary with Exp5 skills in charge of the guards.

Does that read right?

I think you’re on the right track. A couple thoughts:

  • Circles is indeed to be used for acquiring groups as well as individuals. When you get a group, you’re Circling up the leader of that group.

  • Whether that group needs an additional Resources check depends on what you just Circled up, yes? If you’ve hired mercs, they need to be paid. If you hired a LOT of mercs, presumably with the intent to gain the “larger forces” bonus, that’s probably a +Ob to that test. Same thing with equipping your mercs with better weaponry to gain the “superior firepower” bonus.

  • I think this is what your’e getting at elsewhere in your post: some folks don’t need to pay for troops or people who, in the story’s narrative, are already beholden to them. The Cotar Fomas doesn’t need to pay the Sodality, for example; they’re already answering to him.

  • Not being a dick is kind of a big deal when you’re setting up a Firefight. IMO this is a weakness of the system, because there’s probably nothing more directly competitive in the game than warfare. Having to be touchy-feely with your opponent – “Gee, you’re all in Iron? That sounds swell, sure!” – kind of deflates that intensity. If the other side is being equally gracious it’s all good, but you are about to get into a nasty fight. This is much easier for the GM of course; I can’t think of many player reasons, other than courtly etiquette between two warring Lords, to hand my opponent the tools to kick my ass.

Probably the way around having to rely on the kindness of your in-game opponent is to make darned good and sure your color lines up well in advance of the fight. Show off your units of Iron. Ensure everyone knows you have a fleet of grav tanks. Establish your badassedness well in advance of the fight so nobody can say, “Whoa there, you didn’t mention anything about that Hammer planetbuster in orbit…”


Hmm. Good points, although I’d probably up the Ob for a Circles test for the group’s leader by one if the intent was to get his goons as well. Either that, or I’d allow a straight Circles for the leader, then a Resources to hire him and his goons.

When I was discussing Resources, it was less in terms of a discrete group of hired guns and more in terms of reinforcing basic colour. My Omac line of thinking works kind of like this: A prison needs guards and security fources, so if we’ve already established the prison, both sides can assume Exp3 guards with fairly average, close combat gear. The owner of the prison can make a Resources test to improve on the quality of the gear without having to make a Circles test.

… so, yeah, what you were saying about the Cotar Fomas and his sodality, basically.

I think I’m making an assumption somewhere, and it’s that, if no one has been making any building tests to influence the conflict, the opposing forces in a Firefight should be equal - unless established colour makes it obvious that one side or another will have the advantage. If the players announce in colour that they’re attacking with a couple of fireteams without using a builder roll to concentrate their foirces (per Luke’s post), then I’ll have a couple of squads of guards waiting for them. The players will still likely be able to pull Iron Trained and other bonuses in order to get a dispo bonus.

You can Circle up a character with specific knowledge, predispostion or conditions. Therefore, you can circle up a character who is in charge of a unit. It would be ridiculous to Circle up a Clan Leader if he didn’t have access to his clan. Same goes for Anvil Lord and same goes for lesser commanders like Offisah or even thugs. You Circle them up with the specific condition/knowledge that they have armed men under them. Pay the obstacle penalty and rolls the dice!


Ah. Good point. I’ll be sure to read the set of rules in question properly before posting next time! (I hope…)