Note: Current houserules are described under an example context of a main skirmish battlegrid where each gridded zone is about 3x3 yards. (So it’s basically a Fire Emblem grid scale style, not Pathfinder..) Thus, it’s a 9x9 feet square instead and NOT 5x5 feet!
Currently, I feel this resolution may work better for TROS-like melee combat situations, where some abstraction (especially in Melee) might be good, without going for a too granular grid.
Also, such a grid size provides a middleway for translating between fine grids/gridless measure-taped environments versus a more narrative/abstract rpg environment generalised scene graph approach to representing skirmish locations.
So, when adopting such house rules for other grid/environment types, interpret/translate accordingly to match to your own context.
How to band:
OR (Free form)
How to disband:
OR (Free form)
Execution (every phase):
You must have enough movement to pass through all friendly-occupied squares and take up final position in a vacant square, else you can only stack pair-up at final position (if possible).
How to band:
How to disband:
Pair-up formations may be Surprised/Outflanked if both characters are Locked in Combat facing same target square while being attacked.
How to adjust formation:
This is an optional rule (will require more book-keeping/sub-marker-placement for tabletop). But this basically allows movement across the battlemap to occur during bouts, even if they remained Locked throughout the skirmish. It also provides a measurable way of determining if a particular character is Pinned Down or not, and allows frontlines to push forward/back accordingly.
How does a character get Pinned Down? How does a character ends up displacing a grid square while fighting in Melee combat?
Standing character resolving a defense while not having Initiative, with other side maintaining initiative:
Ie. As long as he doesn’t gain back initiative against all opponents….
+1 Retreat Point accumulated for character.
Once at least 1 Retreat point is gained, he must specify his prefered retreat sub-square (ie. one of the 3x3 sub-squares within the main grid square, each representing 1 yard) to represent his general direction of retreat and may limit which squares he can traverse to. This will define his planned path of retreat, which will limit his retreat movement direction accordingly (if he does retreat at the end of the melee round). Depending on adjaciency of enemies, certain sub-squares may not be selectable or he may have NO valid path of retreat! Retreating can only be done to an adjacient square on cardinal axis (ie. no diagonal movement). Use corner sub-squares to have 2 orthognal square choices to retreat to at given corner, or an edge subsquare that only involves 1 way of retreat. Usually, corner subsquares are better (whenever possible), as it gives more retreat options.
Usually, everyone has a 2 or 3 Retreat Points quota. Depending on terrain slope/formation/environment situation, this value might vary at GM discretion. If this quota is met at the end of the melee round, character is forced to displace square. (Not sure which setting is best to use for this..). Exceeding the quota will clamp the value to it’s maximum value. Accumulated retreat points can be represented by some D2/D3/D6/D10/D20 counter placed on top of the character model.
Certain stacked formations (eg. shield wall/back-to-back fighting) might not allow for any marking of any sub-sequare, or any possible means of Retreat unless Flee or Dart Out is resolved successfully to exit combat for the respective individuals (thus breaking the formation.), or a character Disengages and has enough initaitive on the next phase to split out of his stacked square in time. Such formations comes with it’s own Retreat point quota, and if met, will result in Pinned Down status accordingly since there’s no marked avenue of retreat. If the formation changes to something else within the same square for the next Round of combat, the Retreat point quota may change, but not the currently accumulated retreat points for all the combatants within the stacked formation.
Failure (or refusal) to Retreat to an adjacient square when Retreat Point accumulation has reached quota upon conclusion of melee round, results in Pinned Down status for the next round, assuming melee combat remains Locked for that character, or the character gets re-engaged while his Retreat points has not resetted yet.
Other ways to “deliberately” or indirectly increase Retreat points:
Important note when “accumulating” retreat points: If your opponent has Retreat points, you can’t increase your own Retreat points yet, but must reduce it off the opponent’s quota first. This is to simulate the typical back-and-forth pushing that happens in a melee fight between two parties.
Perform Dart Out manouvre (or any other manourvre that is simliar in terms of “falling back”). If you resolve it successfully, you will add a Retreat Point.
Performing Flee with at least 1 un-contested success, but not resolving it successfully against enemy, adds 1 retreat point. If you resolved Flee successfully but couldn’t (or refused to) displace your square grid position elsewhere while exiting melee combat, you add 3 Retreat points.
If up against multiple opponents, and you resolve Thread the Needle successfully to try and avoid them and use it to un-target yourself from the various opponents , you also add a Retreat point for each opponent you successfully untargeted yourself from.
Ways to reset Retreat points back to zero:
In general, a person always resets Retreat Points back to zero by exiting the current square he is in, or all related opponents disengage and break square adjaciency from his position.
If you resolved Flee successfully (or exit combat due to Dart Out’s results), you are given 1 free movement to retreat to an adjacient square immediately, regardless of current Retreat point status. If you already accumultated at least Retreat point, you will be limited to which square you can exit to , based on the sub-square you chose earlier. Otherwise, you are free to retreat to any adjacient square that is vacant. Displacing to a different square resets retreat points back to zero.
Also, while Locked in melee, any other result for a particular character that doesn’t add retreat accum (eg. gaining back initiative/maintaining initiative, etc., will reduce Retreat Accum by 1 point. When it reaches back to zero points, the marked sub-square for the retreat point can be removed for the respective character.
Depending on skirmish situation, you may resolve to Disengage, then move out of your current square in the next phase to reset Retreat points back to zero (assuming you have time to do so).
Post-round fall back conclusion
When such a Retreat is performed for the concluded melee round that is still in progress, any other nearby enemies that are currently still engaged to the retreating character for that round, must move in to maintain adjaciency (priotizing those that executed their offensive manourvres for the current round with at least 1 un-contested success, and are of higher ADR initaitive) if they wish to remain Locked to their opponent. In certain terrain situations, not everyone may be able to maintain adjaciency to the target they are engaging, and may be forced to Disengage. Some may voluntarily Disengage by not moving to maintain adjaciency.
The Prone character also receives Pinned Down status which stacks with his Prone status. If prone character Stands up in the next melee round, he still keeps his Pinned Down status.
When you have Pinned down status for the current round, you cannot initiate Mobility manoeuvres (eg. such as Thread the Needle) for that melee round.
Engagement distances for Song of Swords is documented typically at 2 yard distance contact. A 9x9 foot (ie. 3x3 yard square grid), matches that 2-yard gap distance accordingly between 2 humanoids when they stand at adjacient squares.
Design-wise, when players approach within engagement grid adjacent distance (typically 2 yards gap in between) to engage in a Melee Attack, a seperate Melee combat instance is presented between the squares which the characters occupy, very much like how Fire Emblem does it. However, this should not be entirely divorced from the surrounding environment either. (ie. at least, the modern Fire Emblem games have the surrounding 3D scenes match-scale with the 2D map scene locations accordingly, with seamless overhead to 3D view transition effects similar to Valkyria Chronicles).
The only difference is that if Retreat points and sub-square retreat directions are used for the grid, then it automatically translates to slightly shifted positions of the actual 3D character positions to match the back-and-forth sustatined melee fight positions between the 2 gridded territories. Thus, it’s a more realistic melee fight representation (with displaced off center positions) instead of the “magical” spring-back-to-center-position action you find in most typical JRPGs.
I have another rules document for approximating every skirmish actions/movement on such a 9x9 foot grid scheme within Song of Swords, though this may be applied to other TROSlike games as well.
You could even have Overwatch characters “waiting to snipe” into a bout round after it concludes, stationed from a distance (maybe inside buildings..or somewhere else on the skirmish map), if you wished to re-implement some sort of beta 1.2’s Overwatch mechanic for beta 1.3’s skirmish system to allow Ranged characters to act directly in the bout round itself, rather than shoot them in the general skirmish phase.
This would need some balancing/adjustments though.
At the start of a bout where you and your enemy has Zero Retreat points at the moment, if you are outnumbered by 2 or more opponents on different squares, you can only maintain reach control over 1 of the chosen character at a time by default from your current “zero” center position, depending on which characters has a lower reach than you.
However, to allow you to keep Reach control over 1 or 2 opponents (depending on whom you have a longer reach over) that aren’t engaging you on Outflanking squares on opposite ends, you may opt to immediately accumulate 1 Retreat point immediately if possible (without spending any CP ) at the start of the bout, to immediately take up position in the sub-square at the opposite corner that allows you to maintain reach advantage against your 1 or 2 of your opponents, instead of using the Thread the Needle manoeuvre. (So, you still wish to face all 2 opponents at the same time, while keeping reach advantage against one or both of them.) (Edit: Need diagram to show this). Note that if you wish to do this, you cannot adopt Aggressive orientation, and the Aggressive orientation die must be omitted out before rolling initiative.
However, this approach of yours may be contested against by the enemy if they adopted Outmanoeuvre/Slip About against you before Actions are declared for the round, and if anyone succeeded, you will not succeed in such a “manoeuvre” to offset your position. (Thus, usually, Thread the Needle, despite having to pay CP costs, is used most of the time for this as the possibly “safer” option, since it will help untarget yourself from the multiple opponents besides also gaining the necessary Retreat points to allow you to shift your sub-square position to better optimize reach advantage against your adjacient opponents. ). Furthermore, if up against three opponents, using Thread the Needle may be the best and ONLY option to hopefully help you maintain reach control over 1 or 2 enemies at once, while untargeting yourself from at least 1 enemy.
Under all circumstances, you cannot maintain reach control against all 3 enemies that are located on three seperate adjacient grid squares at the same time, because one of squares will always be on an Outflanking square engaging you on the opposite end. In such a case, Thread the Needle is the only approach you can depend on as a means of trying to deal with Outflanking opponents while maintaining reach control by gaining enough Retreat points to shift your sub-square positioning to face the “right” enemies (1 or 2 of them).