I’ve read these three threads on this subject:
But I still feel the need to improve my understanding here. I know there’s no always/never, black and white answer, I’m just hoping to thin the fog surrounding this in my brain.
I was listening to John Harper in the Rollplay Blades campaign, and he said that a PC should make a Command roll in a group action with NPCs rolling something else. p171 of BitD mirrors this.
I thought that was different to my understanding of BoB, so checked:
- p223 sounds exactly like BitD: to lead a squad you perform a group action, either with marshal or the same action as them (so obviously I’d been remembering/understanding incorrectly).
- p226 though says that marshal can can be used on a squad for an action without the squad rolling at all
- p280 seems to agree with p226, and makes no mention of group rolls
What is the typical, most common usage of marshal on an NPC squad, in people’s experience?
I can think of a virtually unlimited number of situations that seem to fit well with BitD/BoB p223 (group action: PC rolls marshal, squad rolls other) but I’m really struggling to think of any strong fictional examples where the PC rolls marshal and the squad doesn’t roll (because either there’s nothing at stake so no roll from anyone is needed at all, or the capabilities of the NPCs is important so them rolling too seems important)…
Can anyone offer some more experienced insight?
No-one has any experience dealing with this? Is it a non-issue? Is there just a given way of thinking about it that I don’t realise?
So I haven’t really run into this issue, but that is probably because I’m playing it partially “wrong,” but it has worked thus far!
The main thing is to keep your mind focused on “Fiction First.” What is happening in the fiction? From there, bring the appropriate mechanics (if any) to bear and run from there.
So, I’ll start with the “simplest” of circumstances and work from there:
- The PC asks the NPCs to do something that they are more than capable of performing (or at least attempting) and they had no reservations about trying to do the thing and there isn’t too much risk/ uncertainty: They just “do the thing” or “don’t do the thing” as appropriate to the fiction- no rolls from anyone really required
- The PC asks the NPCs to do something that they are more than capable of performing (or at least attempting) and they had no reservations about trying to do the thing, but there is some degree of risk associated: Then the NPC(s) go ahead and make their dice roll. No roll required from the player
- The PC asks the NPCs to do something that they do have reservations about trying to do the thing (which likely implies there is also risk in doing that thing). The PC will need to make an Action here- either Marshal or Discipline, whichever most closely fits their intent/ approach in the fiction. Afterwards, depending on the PC’s roll, the NPCs will make their roll. I don’t treat this as a “Group Action.” To me, a group action ought to be everyone doing- more or less- “the same thing,” not one person “telling the others to do a thing.”
- The PC is engaging in some form of Action and they request the aid of the NPCs. If this is a case where the NPCs have no reservations about joining in- then the PC doesn’t really need to roll Marshal or Discipline- just the Action that represents the Approach/ Intent. The NPCs roll in the group action as well
- The PC is engaging in some form of Action and they request the aid of the NPCs. If this is a case where the NPCs do have reservations about joining in- then the PC likely does really need to roll Marshal or Discipline and then likely the Action that represents them “doing the thing” in the group Action with the NPCs
Again, I don’t think this is precisely what the book says- but to me it fits/ makes sense in using the mechanics to support the fiction. I’m not sure if it helps or not… but I hope it does!
Interesting answers as always, Sully.
Some of your solutions are indeed probably not what the book intended (especially the third and fifth, which would add a roll to the whole process: rolling the action or group action after the Marshal roll).
However I think the main problem is what you have described is more “How would I use Marshal in vanilla Blades”.
In Band of Blades, Marshal is not about convincing the squad to do what they could have reservations doing. After all, the NPCs here are already Légionnaires, so they are supposed to obey and fight. If they have arrived to the point where they would not do it, it’s probably more a question of Discipline. In fact, the book says it on page 280: " In order to direct a group, they must be able to communicate with you and be willing to listen to what you have to say. If either of these is in question, this could worsen your position, or simply make it impossible to lead the group." So the will to obey is a prerequisite or an accessory, it is not what Marshal is about.
I think Marshal is more about how to organise things intelligently to get the required tactical effect. At least that’s how I understand the way it is described. Granted, the examples on page 281 are a bit ambiguous.