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Strategy & Command skills


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The Strategy and Command skills are a bit rubbish, as described in the Big Gold Book. Does anyone have any better house rules for them?

My complaints about them, as written, are: 1) Successful rolls get you no advantage, but failure gets you a disadvantage (a classic design flaw); and 2) They're too fiddly and minor to bother with, i.e. +10%/+POW% on combat rolls for d4 rounds.

I'd prefer something like, on a successful roll... Command: all combat rolls are Easy for one round; Strategy: all enemy combat rolls are Hard for 1 round. Anyone see problems with that?

(Apologies if this has been tackled before and I've failed to notice).

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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The way we use them, Command skill gives a modifier for the NPCs relevant skills,

from -10 % in the case of a fumble to +10 % in the case of a critical success, and

Strategy (an obvious misnomer, it should be Tactics) gives somewhat higher modi-

fiers for combat skills only, from -25 % to +25 %. The duration of the effect is in

both cases 5 rounds. The effects of both skills are not cumulative, a character

can use either Command or Strategy, but not both at the same time.

The way we use it, Command is more a leadership and organization skill for civilians,

while Strategy is a professional skill for military personnel. The modifiers for Command

are lower, because many of the civilian skills (e.g. Craft or Repair) can not plausibly

be improved a lot through good leadership, while Strategy can have a much bigger

influence on the outcome of a combat - just think of a successful ambush and the-

like. The duration is just an arbitrary thing introduced to avoid a boring die roll.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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My brainstorming tuppence...

Strategy is a Knowledge skill that is used to develop plans of attack for large forces using maps, dioramas, and communications from force commanders in the field. It is what the force general uses back at HQ. I would not change function from much from what is listed in the book, but I would make it an opposed roll. A "success" on both sides not conferring any advantage; that is both sides "Strategy" is sound and it comes down to the results of the units on the field.

Tactics is a Knowledge skill that is used to develop a plan of attack using maps, scouting reports, and direct personal observations of surroundings and the battlefield. A success gives the units or personnel under the Tacticians command a 10% bonus to their combat skills. If the Tactician is the direct commander of the PC's (or is one of the PCs), then a further bonus, calculated as a Complementary Skill (1/5) is awarded, because the commander is right there to correct them, or they have sufficient knowledge of the commander to better comprehend their instructions. A Special adds 25%, Critical makes rolls Easy; Failure no bonus, Fumble -25%.

Command is a communications skill that is used by a unit commander to assess the Strategy or Tactics and to order them into a format that their subordinates will understand. Essentially, a translation skill and thus complements the Strategy and Tactics skills but is NOT required to . Success gives no bonus in and of itself, but does pass along any bonuses gained from the Strategic or Tactical levels, if any. A Special gives a +20% bonus to the unit, either because of your more intimate knowledge of the immediate area or due to dumb luck, a Critical makes the units combat skills easy; a Failure does not impose any penalty, but also denies the unit the Strategic or Tactical bonuses passed from above; a fumble imposing a 20% penalty while also denying bonuses from above.

None of these skills is used to inspire, that is still the realm of Oratory.

Thus, as I've defined them at least, Strategy is for the War commander, Tactics for the Battle commander, and Command for the Unit commander.

Of course, how you define things is going to depend as much on your setting and style of play as anything else. Perhaps, for example, you want to role-play the Command function.


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I have written an optional rule for adding mooks to combat at the beginning of the Crusaders of the Amber Coast campaign. It takes into account the Command skill of PC leaders, making friendly mooks tougher and less incline to fleeing from combat if you make your roll. The mook does not become more skilled, he just takes more hit points of damage before giving up.

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Yes, I think I can remember that Rosen's 'Command' rule he wrote in Amber Coast worked pretty well actually, I quite liked that, it sounded like it would make 'Command' more useful, I'll have to look in there to peruse it as I may need something like this in an upcoming session. Grab that book, it's full of good stuff actually ( ...and no, I don't know the author, it's just a good recommendation).

Perhaps you could mix the ideas: do something like Rosen's rules for use with NPCs, with the other PCs receiving an additional combat action bonus instead which increases depending upon the level of success, along the lines like you described, but a bit weaker.

Off the top of my head I'd go for +10 A% for a success, +20% for a special, and Easy A% for a critical Command roll. The bonuses you describe are a little too potent for skill use in my opinion, but perhaps magic could enhance the commander's presence etc to provide benifits along those lines. The command effects should last longer than one round however, perhaps half the commanding character's POW or CHA in rounds might be more appropriate. Maybe if you roll under your Command and your Orate (mechanically like using Martial Arts) then perhaps you score a Special success (dunno...).

Food for thought

Edited by Mankcam

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Thanks very much for your thoughts, gents. Not using the Mooks concept, and with an old-style fantasy campaign that doesn't support detailed command structures, I'll give my initial idea a try. (Despite the large benefit - it is only short-term, so hopefully that cancels out, and simplifies admin). I'll report back on how it goes down with the players - even when it's used against them!

Edited by frogspawner

Britain has been infiltrated by soviet agents to the highest levels. They control the BBC, the main political party leaderships, NHS & local council executives, much of the police, most newspapers and the utility companies. Of course the EU is theirs, through-and-through. And they are among us - a pervasive evil, like Stasi.

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