So here's a computer utility to make the generation of groups of D&D Men a bit more manageable, which I call the Marshal. It's written as a Java program which you run on the command-line (and hence should work on any computing platform where you've got Java). Just ask it for a particular unit type of Men, and it outputs the listing for all the various soldier units (footmen, archers, cavalry, etc.), as well as all the high-level Fighter leaders in complete detail (including abilities, hit points, magic arms and armor, and compiled combat statistics).
Here's why this is a bit different from similar tools you've probably seen before: All of the NPC leaders have the entirety of their active careers actually played out in a simulation. This was motivated by the prior Arena project, as noted in the last blog post; we take a group of Men of the indicated size, insert them into the Arena and have them fight a whole career's worth of gladiatorial matches, simply reporting the top performers at the end. The Marshal'd NPCs aren't simply blank slates; they all actually started as 0-level normal men, with abilities rolled 3d6 in order, and had to battle their way to the top, one fight at a time. Those who were lucky in terms of ability scores, hit dice, match selections, and magic arms acquisition, rise to the top. As an example of Darwinian natural selection, the leaders will tend to have higher ability scores, hit points, and magical equipment -- without any arbitrary munging or guesswork by the DM. I find this to produce far more organic and believable results; in theory, we could name and identify every individual man our leaders ever crossed swords with to gain their current positions.
Here's how you can get and run the Marshal: (1) See the bottom of this post. (2) Download and unzip the first file, Marshal.zip into a location of your choosing (this includes the executable Marshal.jar and required data files). (3) Open a command prompt in this location and type java -jar Marshal.jar bandits (or whatever type of Men you need). It will simulate the careers of all the soldiers and leaders involved, and write the results to standard output. Then you can pipe or copy this output to a document of your choosing and easily compile your own "Rogues Gallery" for use at the table (or else keep the program itself handy on a laptop or tablet and run it live during play). Here's an example of the output:
D:\Prog\Java\Arena>java -jar Marshal.jar brigands
Brigands, Chaotic, 110 Total
- 60 Light Foot (AC 6, MV 12, HD 1)
- 20 Short Bow (AC 7, MV 12, HD 1)
- 20 Light Horse (AC 6, MV 24, HD 1)
- 10 Medium Horse (AC 4, MV 18, HD 1)
Walther, Human Ftr8 (AC 0, MV 6, HD 8, hp 53, Atk Sword +9 (1d8+1); Str 14, Int 14, Wis 7, Dex 7, Con 17, Cha 10; Plate +1, Shield +2, Sword, Dagger)
Falco, Human Ftr7 (AC 0, MV 6, HD 7, hp 47, Atk Two-handed sword +8 (1d10+1); Str 13, Int 15, Wis 13, Dex 17, Con 13, Cha 15; Plate +1, Two-handed sword, Hammer)
Hugo, Human Ftr5 (AC 0, MV 6, HD 5, hp 27, Atk Morning star +6 (1d8+1); Str 13, Int 13, Wis 10, Dex 16, Con 11, Cha 12; Plate, Shield, Morning star, Dagger)
Friedhelm, Human Ftr4 (AC -2, MV 6, HD 4, hp 15, Atk Morning star +4 (1d8); Str 9, Int 13, Wis 10, Dex 16, Con 13, Cha 10; Plate +1, Shield +1, Morning star, Dagger)
Johannes, Human Ftr4 (AC 3, MV 6, HD 4, hp 27, Atk Halberd +5 (1d10+1); Str 13, Int 14, Wis 11, Dex 10, Con 16, Cha 9; Plate, Halberd, Spear)
Notes: Leaders on heavy barded horses; morale +1.
I've tried to keep the output as brief as possible, to make it immediately readable and playable in a live game (granted that there's already so many moving parts, and these groups of Men are likely to show up by random rolls without any advance preparation by the DM). Keeping that in mind, here are some things that it simplifies or won't do (yet):
- The various heterogeneous-composition units (e.g., light foot, short bow, etc.) are rounded to blocks of 10 for readability and possible utility in a 1:10 scale mass wargame. For very small groups, some of the heavier unit types may not appear (see previously here).
- You are guaranteed to get at least as many leaders of the top level as dictated in the OD&D text. Levels below that may not perfectly match up with the official rules, because of natural variation in the Arena simulator. For example: By the Vol-2 rules, the group of Brigands above should have one leader of 8th-9th level (which they do), two fighters of 5th-6th level (where they got one 5th and one 7th), and three fighters of 4th level (where in this case they only have two). Personally, I prefer this bit of organic variation and unpredictability; but as you can see, the results are naturally very close to the book rule anyway.
- These fighters all have one 8-sided hit die per level up to 9th, and then add +3 hit points for any levels after that (which you're pretty unlikely to see here). So, the output is fundamentally compatible with Original D&D (using Sup-I for hits), or any of the Basic D&D line (like Moldvay/Cook B/X, Mentzer BXCMI, Allston Rules Cyclopedia, etc.)
- The only magic items included are those with a straight bonus-to-hit. I think this makes it easier to use at a glance, and were the only indicated items for Fighters which would make any difference in the career-simulator, anyway. If you want to go through and add more exotic types (like: intelligent swords, etc.), you can roll for that manually. The items shown were developed by rolling a 5% chance at each level-up to get an added point on any piece of equipment.
- Armor will be fixed for a particular type of Men (e.g., plate for Bandit leaders, chain for Nomads, etc.); primary melee weapons are randomized among the obvious options (which I wanted for some variety); while missile weapons are not included (which I usually find are not important for leaders anyway). Technically, the OD&D rules specify that leaders of Men will only have magic "Armor, Shield, Sword". If you want to enforce that last stricture, use the switch -s on the command line, and then everyone will be armed with Swords.
- Spellcasters, who have a chance of occasionally showing up for groups of size 200+, are outside the scope of this program, as they really don't fit into the model of simulating careers through man-to-man martial combat (also, they tend to be more variable by campaign in terms of identity, spell list, etc.; and are really quite rare in any case). You'll have to roll those members on your own, or make use of a separate single-character simulator (one possibility is here, although it doesn't naturally produce higher ability scores).
- Boats for the Buccaneers and Pirates are also not specified. Personally, I go through and select a Longship or Sailed Warship for about every 75 Men, assigning the top leaders as the captain of each.
- If you know how many Men you want in advance, just append that to the command, for example: java -jar Marshal.jar cavemen 50 gives you exactly 50 Cavemen. This also allows you to generate higher-than-normal group sizes (beyond the normal range of 30-300), although it might take a while to generate all the leaders, and as a side-effect some may come out at a higher level (I've seen 10th-14th level on occasion doing this).
- If you want to include my OED House Rule Fighter Feats, then the command switch -f will add one every 4 levels (first published in Fight On #9, and detailed here; includes things like exceptional Strength, Weapon Specialization, Two-Weapon-Fighting, Tracking, multiple attacks, etc.).
- If you want to force all the leaders strictly to have swords as in the Vol-2 text, then the switch -s does that (as noted above).
- If instead of the default XP-award rule in OD&D Vol-1 (100 XP per hit die), you want to use the alternate XP table from Sup-I/BX (included in data file XPTable.csv), then the switch -x does that. You're unlikely to see much difference from that in this program (maybe marginally longer to generate the leaders).
- Marshal executable package (ZIP)
- Marshal source code archive (GPL license)
- Marshal Java code documentation