GURPS Midnight: Running A Big Fight in GURPS (Prep)

In my periodic GURPS Midnight game, we are coming to the end of the introductory sessions I’ve planned to help the players get used to the new system, tweak their characters, and so on.

Last session the PCs ended up rounding up a peasant resistance south of Baden’s Bluff, with the able-bodied people of three villages fortifying and preparing to fight against a group of a couple dozen Orcs and some Goblin slavers.  The PCs came up with a plan, and this session, we find out how the plan works.

First I’ll talk about what is involved, the situation, and then I’ll go through how I represented it using GURPS.  Lastly, I’ll post a report on how the game works out.

The setup

Here’s what the prepped table looks like:

On the far side of the table, where I’ll be sitting, are the Orcs.  I’m using colored cubes that I found at a craft store to represent the units, as well as the D&D minis that I have that fit.  The red cubes are extra Orcs.
On the near side are the five PCs looking lonely and heroic facing the Orcs – I set it up that way just to set the scene.  The PCs are the heavy-hitters in this fight – the peasants they’re leading aren’t soldiers, they’re villagers the PCs have convinced to join them.
The colored cubes at the near side of the table are for the PCs to place – those are their “troops”.  They’re stacked in descending order of ‘power’ where this fight is concerned.
Blue cubes are the toughest villagers: the smith and his two burly sons, two people who have hatchets, and two people who have bows.  Remember, all weapons are illegal, on pain of death, in the Midnight setting.
Orange cubes are the rest of the villagers who have spears – the village they are defending, Dorn Hill, is a village that happened to have a comparatively large amount of contraband weapons.
Green cubes are the villagers who have slings – not a lot of damage, but they have the advantage of being able to hit the Orcs without being hit themselves.

Purple cubes are the villagers who have large knives and are willing to fight with them (given that most families have a knife between them, even though they’re technically illegal, because it’s a ubiquitous tool)

Yellow cubes are the villagers who are willing to fight, but don’t have anything more dangerous than farm tools – grain flails, wooden pitchforks and quarterstaves.

The system hack

I’d like every villager death to be dramatic, and every Orc injury to be hard-won, so I want to treat each interaction with it’s own die-roll, possibly hand-waiving if things begin to drag.  But I want every death to hurt.  This battle may very well not go in the PCs’ favor, and the characters have never led troops before.

For the purposes of simplifying the battle, I am assuming everyone is using an All-Out Attack maneuver, as per the GURPS rules – the weaker ones, using knives and farm tools, taking a +2 to damage, and the others taking the +4 to attack rolls.  This lets me ignore defenses – it’s hard to parry with a knife or a hammer anyway.

I’m assuming the Orcs are really excited at the chance for a real, pitched battle where mostly their job is terrorizing unarmed villagers.

I also simplified damage: each hit from an Orc will take out the villager they hit.  Villagers don’t have more armor than layering the clothing they have, and the Orcs are wielding military weaponry with deadly skill.  Each hit from a villager wounds the Orc in question, and a second hit will take that Orc out.  Taken out means downed, unable to move well, and possibly going into shock, not dead unless the person is left without help.

On the fly, I’ll try to take penalties and bonuses into account – mostly penalties for things like slingers on rooftops (bad footing -2) or Orcs and villagers trying to fight across the debris barriers the villagers put up to block the road at two points.

I am also taking morale into account.  I need to double check the GURPS morale rules, if I can find them, but I’m assuming the Orcs will make a morale check after losing 20% of their force and the villagers will have to after losing 10% of their force – they’re not used to seeing their friends and family die around them.

Morale will be a collective Will roll and a Leadership roll from the leader of each force (an Orc veteran on one side and a PC on the other side).  If both succeed, they force is fine.  If only one succeeds, the force is stalled.  If both fail, the force withdraws.  A second failure means they panic and break.

The PC plan and the wild-card

One of the PCs is a spellcaster, using a lot of Mind Control magic.  The PCs’ plan hinges on him using a Panic spell to make groups of the Orcs run away, making them unable to defend themselves and letting villagers injure them as they flee.  He probably won’t have the energy to do this more than a couple times.  At the very least, it allows the PCs to use his magic-induced panic as cover.

It remains to be seen whether the PCs will set things up to be really able to take advantage of this tactic.


We’ll see how things work out – I’ll be trying this during our game tomorrow.

One thought on “GURPS Midnight: Running A Big Fight in GURPS (Prep)

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