Runic Knowledge #6 — Troops and Leadership
Pathfinder was designed to solve problems created by it's predecessor, Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 Edition. Pathfinder Second Edition was designed to solve problems created by Pathfinder's first iteration. In the perpetual race to find the sweet spot between simplicity, accuracy, and fun, we continually find better rules abstractions to manage different systems and subsystems for play. One notable absence in Pathfinder 2E as a system is the means to control troops (or mooks for our D&D expats) and I propose a means to manage troops using a combination of pre-existing tables and rules systems such as Leadership (Gamemastery Guide), Summoning Rituals (Core Rulebook), and Elite Adjustment (Bestiary).
I'm going to be bold and speak on behalf of a broad number of players and GMs alike and say that we do indeed enjoy fantasy encounters at scale. We want epic battles. We want to see heroes outnumbered. We want our fighter to take on eleven guards and win, just as we want to see our Rogue outmaneuver a raiding party of Orcs with finesse, and just as we want to see our Wizard blast away goblins by the dozen using fireballs. But this isn't warhammer, nor is it an action RPG, so we must find a way to streamline these battles without being bogged down by an initiative tracker with 20 or more units on board. The document link below details the process to convert a given creature into a fully-fledged troop, and the premise is simple; troop sizes gain Elite Adjustments via their corresponding Leadership Organization size, and purchasing these creatures averages to roughly the cost of a ritual summoning of a creature of equal CR. The idea behind connecting existing rules systems is that Pathfinder 2E's simplicity relies on repeatable "boilerplate" rules we can reuse and remember, and to re-use subsystems to aid in creating new systems allows us to manage creating new subsystems with relative ease. I have tested this system with a combat between a troop of 150 Owlbears (CR 15), 3 PCs (level 15), and a troop of 25 Palace Guards to aid the party (CR 11) and the mechanics seemed about as stable and balanced and CR can be given the amount of wonkiness we typically see with CR scale.
A short clip showcasing example combat from our channel's Pathfinder 2E stream: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/981119284