TL;DR: BoB’s lack of Hit Points and “fiction-first” combat resolution is throwing me for a loop; am I making a huge mistake if I bump up the Legion to ~100 as well as increase the # of enemies the PCs fight to give me, the GM, more margin for error to freely kill off and maim characters?
I’m going to GM BoB for the 1st time for my gaming group. We are all D&D veterans, but none have ever played any RPG system outside D&D. I’ve DM’d D&D campaigns before, but wrapping my head around BoB mechanics has been a huge culture shock. In particular, I’m concerned about: managing how many enemies to throw at PCs in a mission; when/how many enemies to kill off after a PC makes a shoot/skirmish roll; how many deaths the PCs should suffer in a mission.
The descriptions of the Undead troops give a very wide range of enemies, eg 6-12 Rotters, plus a “few” Crows, and maybe an Elite or two as well at higher levels. Given that the PCs are only 5 per mission, they are down by scale considerably and I feel there is very little margin for GM error.
I have some secondary worries as well: (A) how to run our sessions virtually as we are not meeting in-person yet; (B) the committed group is just 2 players. Our 3rd player has intermittent availability and I’m not sure about our 4th player’s interest. What hacks have you used if only 2 players + a GM can play more often than not? Should the GM take a Legion Role and run Specialists as NPCs?
One of the ways I want to mitigate many of these worries is to bump up the numbers on all sides considerably. IE allow my players to each run a Specialist and then add up to 5 other Legionnaires (usually Rookies) who would be played by me and/or the PCs.
This would mean bumping up the Legion’s cap size beyond 30. On the baddie side, this means throwing more foes at them per mission. With more bodies on all sides, and no measurable Hit Points on anyone, I’ll have much more leeway to ascribe damage to either side when describing roll Effects or devising obstacles.
Mechanically, I’ll have to fudge the post-mission Morale penalty for Legionnaire deaths, but I‘m more comfortable doing this fudge than trial-and-erroring damage during missions. This’ll also help manage the 2ndary missions, where it seems you can lose a significant handful of Legionnaires by chance and fiat.
I also really like this thematically: more bodies in a fight feels more like a theatre of war than a mere 5 Legionnaires. I feel there’s no material difference between a Legion of 30 and a Legion of 14 (the auto-campaign fail trigger) - neither quantity can expect to hold a Keep against an army of hundreds or thousands of Undead. A Legion of ~100 fighters feels more like a broken regiment that still matters and is still capable of field/siege defence operations, especially if I imagine that the full fighting strength of the Legion before Ettermark Fields was approx 400.
I mean - even Shreya’s 1st mission. How are only 5 characters meant to plant explosives on a massive stone bridge at the same time as hold off a wave of Undead? If they lose just 2 bodies, that’s a massive loss in manpower to complete the task. Is this mission ‘meant‘ to be a failure more often than not? Or a TPK suicide mission?
What do people think?? How much will I break the game if this happens (or, more realistically, how much more homebrewing might this decision trap me into)?
I’m so excited about this story, world, and themes, I just really want to get this right for my players.
Thanks for reading my long-winded post.