Combat Team | Monograph concerning party combat tactics and organization
Ulfgar: Second rank, Commander
Latifah: Second rank
Usab: Rear rank, Flanker, Subcommander
Moneypenny: Rear rank, Flanker.
For now, let's assume that the party (a) remains in its current size and skillset, (b) the combat activities of Alidon, Teledesic and Penumbra will be reduced so they may serve the party in other capacities, resulting in (c) a party comprised of two sections: a Combat Team consisting of the five fighters, and a Support Services and Special Operations Team, consisting of the two clerics and a rogue. For this discussion, the SSSO Team will be ignored.
The Wedge Attack Formation
The Wedge Attack Formation is the core combat formation. Cecil is the point; he is the introductory "mailed fist" of the wedge - his job is to charge, disrupt (and take the brunt of) the enemy's initial attack, and (most importantly) GET OUT OF THE WAY so that the second rank, the dwarven contingent, can close. The Dwarves are the meat of the combat wedge, and it is from there that Ulfgar commands. Usab and Moneypenny protect the flanks and, if that is secure, break off from the wedge to flank enemies by moving forward and toward the center in a pincer movement, or other activities. In addition, their positions at the flanks allow them to conduct arrow attacks across their entire field of fire during melee. This helps the combat team to achieve its primary goal - to have all fighters able to engage enemies at all times and at all ranges.
When melee reaches its final stages, the wedge can reverse itself (by simply having the rear ranks advance while the point remains in place) and form an enveloping "V" that creates opportunities for increased flank attacks or capturing enemies.
A marching order in close quarters would look like this:
This allows for good attack and defense flexibility. Cecil remains on point, with Ulfgar immediately behind him for support and to make sure that he follows orders. Moneypenny is taller than Latifah and Ulfgar, and so may attack over their heads, while Usab as rearguard can drop back and maneuver, arch arrows over party, look for flanking opportunities, or conduct hit-and-run or dirty tricks operations.
Weaponry: each combat team member should carry the following weapons:
*bow (short or long, no crossbows) and arrows (at least 20) plus variants (at
*hand weapon (sword, axe, etc) of choice
*two throwing weapons (throwing dagger or hand axe)
Armor can be to taste, although everyone should carry a small or medium shield (no tower shields) that can be slung for archery work. All fighters should have at least a rudimentary helmet or armored cap.
The order in which combat is engaged against a known enemy should look like this.
1. Scouting Operations (can include initial sorties to determine content of
2. Long Distance Attack (arrows, concentrated on targets of opportunity and to soften up defenses)
3. Close attack (swordwork)
4. Mop up (checking enemy dead for loot, treating wounded and securing the immediate area from counterattack or fresh enemies)
5. Regroup and continuing Advance.
1. Scouting Operations
Ulfgar's ranger skills make him the normal choice for scouting and reconnaissance. However, his command responsibilities may make this untenable. Therefore, at least one other fighter should take at least one level of Ranger class (preferably more than one), and all fighters should take some ranks of spot and search skill. At least one fighter should take several ranks of diplomacy, bluff, sense motive, gather information and intimidate, so as to better serve as an interrogator. Also, efforts should be made to develop a non-verbal signaling system (like sign language) that can be used to send messages silently (perhaps necessitating a language skill, perhaps not, Bob's call). All fighters should know this language.
2. Long Distance Attacks
Basically, concentrated archery for effect. Each fighter should have a bow (not crossbow), and should take the feat Point Blank Shot and Rapid Shot, which allow archery attacks at ranges less than 30' and two archery attacks per round, respectively. A targeting system should be set so that it is simple and effective for targets to be ascertained, even without voice communication. Two targets should be of priority: enemy leaders and/or spellcasters, and enemy pointmen. The logic of eliminating leaders and spellcasters is obvious; concentrating attacks on the enemy point blunts their attacks and causes their point to become an obstacle to the enemies behind him. Also, various specialty arrows should be obtained and carried by all fighters, including magical (when available), silver-tipped, "light" enhanced, fire-arrows, etc. Long Distance attacks can and should encompass oil, acid, holy water and other small missiles when appropriate. At least one fighter should take ranks in craft:bowyer and craft:fletcher skill to make any repairs to bows and arrows that might be necessary in the field. Outdoors, enemies behind cover can be attacked by firing arrows in high arcs so that they come down behind the cover, with the no-target penalty applying.
3. Close Attacks
Self-explanatory. More effort should go into coordinating the transition between long-distance and close attack melee rounds, as well as utilizing effective small group tactics, with special emphasis on melee communications, flanking, overrunning enemy positions, thwarting ambushes, and capturing prisoners.
4. Mop up
Post-melee, several actions take place: looting, treating wounded, securing the perimeter, guarding against counter-attacks, and recovery of missiles. To augment their ability to conduct these operations quickly and successfully, each fighter should take ranks in the skills search, spot, and heal. Next, individual fighters should be allocated various tasks prior to combat: example, one fighter with high ranks in search (and perhaps appraise skill) should be detailed to always loot bodies, while another with good spot skills should be detailed to always look for secret doors; another with interrogation skills can question any prisoners, while the rest can secure the perimeter and watch for counterattacks. Detailing these activities utilizes the strengths of individuals more efficiently while allowing all these activities to take place simultaneously.
5. Regroup and Continue Advance
This should be ingrained so it may be done swiftly, and each fighter should know his or her place in all formations and the command hierarchy.
There are times when enemies are sufficient to cause retrogrades (aka "retreats") or even overrun party positions; however, retrogrades and overruns can be conducted to maximize party safety and even cause damage to the enemy.
Retrogrades: Retrogrades provide several opportunities for continuing to hurt the enemy. First, caltrops should be carried in quantity be several fighters, and strewn liberally during retrograde to slow the enemy and cause wounds. Second, retrograde action should be conducted swiftly to buy time; once a melee round of time between the party and the pursuers has been established, an ambush should be set. Lastly, if ambush fails or cannot be set, at least one fighter should have a level of rogue sufficient to effectively set traps and diversions, and have equipment for that purpose.
Overruns: In the event of an overrun by enemies, the combat team should form into a spear phalanx to maximize damage to the enemy while minimizing the opportunity for the enemy to damage the party or gain flanking positions. A phalanx may be forward-facing or circular, and is typically conducted with spear and shield; the combatants crouch as low to the ground as they are able while retaining the ability to move; shields are held high (to protect face and torso) and interlocked, while spears are held fixed and forward as far as possible. An overrunning enemy must either deal with the spears or impale themselves upon them. The phalanx may also be used as an offensive technique, often referred to as a "turtle." A forward-facing phalanx is established, the phalanx moves slowly forward toward enemy positions. This technique can often be used successfully against fixed enemy positions, when the party is under missile fire (thereby gaining cover modifiers), or to drive groups of enemies into desired directions (toward a hidden pit, for example). In some cases, the phalanx may be modified so that 1-2 of the fighters forgo attacks and concentrate solely on defending the remaining fighters from attacks (using shields and disarming techniques, if applicable) while the rest press the spear attack. Also, certain polearms are designed to snag, disarm or capture enemies, and there use in phalanx should be considered (perhaps necessitating the taking of Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat by some fighters) once the basic technique is mastered.
*Fighters should seriously consider taking a single level of cleric. The ability to do cure light on one's self in melee cannot be underestimated, and basically adds an average of five hit points to your overall score. In addition, (a) one can choose a domain that give additional abilities, including healing, (b) if one's Wisdom score is high enough, one can garner additional first level spells, and (c) the entire zero and first level cleric spell catalog is available at first level.
*All fighters should take the feat Improved Initiative, which adds +4 to every initiative die roll.
*If possible, each fighter should carry a potion of Healing for their own use. If one is tending an unconscious comrade, their potion should be found and used, rather than using one's own, unless conditions prohibit it at the time. Those fighters without healing potions should notify the rest of the team, and plans made regarding their care in the event of unconsciousness. This potion should be in addition to any other healing magic, and reserved as a last-ditch item.
*All fighters should continually look to improve their skills in all areas they may. Specialization is fine for large groups, and in the game some measure of specialization naturally occurs, but in small groups it is unwise and steps should be taken to minimize far-reaching individual specialization and make each individual as self-sufficient and individually capable as is possible.