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Articles By Author - Basheer Ghouse

The Art of Skirmishing: Bailing Out

Selim’s dagger came free, the high priest’s corpse slumping over the altar. “That’s it then,” he said. “Let’s see what we’re getting out of this mess.” “Boss,” said Faridah, “we may want to nix the looting.” “Why would—” As he turned, Selim saw the ritual turned loose. The temple was falling apart, tendrils of noxious, ravenous void, ripping through the stones. Unleashed magical energy lashed across the...

Art of Skirmishing: Objectives

To make a skirmish a skirmish, you will need an objective as well as a condition for ending combat. In a standard combat, these are the same thing. Once a side runs out of combatants, the other side has completed its objective, and the fight has ended. The game is designed around this paradigm, a paradigm that often isn’t the case in a skirmish. As a result, objectives need to be crafted to the stakes at hand and to the capabilities of...

The Art of Skirmishing: Why We Fight

The first step of creating any successful skirmish is to set compelling stakes and objectives for that skirmish and to communicate them clearly to the players. The worst-case scenario for a skirmish is the players not caring about the outcome of the fight or not understanding what they need to do to effect that outcome. In a deathmatch, this is handled for you. If you lose, you’re dead. If you win, you’re not. The stakes and, generally...

The Art of Skirmishing: To the Death

You could not call such bloodshed a victory. Dwarven pike had met draconic spear wall, neither buckling until lines were met. Hradakh had been in the thick of it, stabbing his way through the brutal melee, and when the fighting stopped, he and his dragonborn kin held the field. What few of them had survived anyway. The field was carpeted in blood and bodies, and perhaps one in three of his comrades stood unaided. Another victory like this and...

Tools of War: Design Principles for Massive Combat

5th edition isn’t designed for massive combats. One of the most powerful things you can do in 5th edition and its derivatives is to either get more actions or deny people theirs. As the game is simulationist, adding more people into a combat becomes a brute-force way to make this happen, be that hordes of opponents, summoned allied minions, or simply lots of players or allied NPCs. Additionally, each combatant makes every round of combat take...

Tools of War: NPC Allies

NPC allies are a reasonably common feature in home campaigns and published adventures. While a decent way to showcase the allies that characters are invested in, characters who are important to the plot, or just friendly combatants too important to be represented as some sort of disposable minion, they can be annoying to use. And just as with minions and hirelings, they add to the action economy on a one-to-one basis. Controlling them is a...

Tools of War: Commanding Minions

You’re playing a necromancer, and you’ve finally got animate dead. Your last battle leaves you with a small hoard of corpses, and careful spell selection and treasure hoarding has given you the resources to raise, equip, and transport all of them.  You reach the dungeon, a team of bandits riding out to meet you. You command your minions to charge alongside the barbarian and— Oh no. You have to roll initiative for all of these guys…...

Tools of War: Formations and Hordes

Enormous battles against overwhelming odds are a staple of the fantasy genre, of the books and movies and games that inspire so many campaigns. Trying to bring that experience to the tabletop, though, is difficult with the increased bookkeeping, time, and attention that such combats require. To War! There are existing rules to mitigate this. Both the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide offer ways to speed up combat or handle large numbers...

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