Threat levels of Legionnaires

I’m probably overthinking this, but I’m finding myself hung up on the way Threat is determined for Legionnaires. I’m just going to lay out where I’m getting stuck.

Legionnaires are, by default, Threat 1. Legionnaires with “fine items” are Threat 2, per p. 30 of Band of Blades. Relative Threat (i.e. a Legionnaire’s Threat compared an Undead’s Threat) has two areas of impact: determining Effect and determining the level of Harm.

For Rookies this is easy - they don’t have anything that’s fine, so they’re Threat 1, period.

The Heavy, Officer, and Soldier - even with a Light Load, they’re issued a fine hand weapon and fine armor, so they’re Threat 2. Presumably any ranged attacks they make are back down to Threat 1, save Officers carrying Normal/Heavy Load (as they get a fine pistol).

Medics are issued a fine pistol at Normal Load, and are never issued fine armor. So are they Threat 2 when using that pistol, but otherwise Threat 1? Does the lack of fine armor mean Harm is calculated for them as if they are Threat 1, even if they’ve got a fine pistol making their attacks Threat 2?

Similar questions can be asked for the Scout (who only gets fine armor at Heavy Load) and the Sniper (who get fine armor at Normal Load).

Some answers from the forum: (questions 2 and 3 and answers)

Personally, I distinguish offensive Threat and defensive Threat (so Medics, Scouts would be Harmed just like Rookies if they dont’t have Special Abilities that say otherwise)

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I think I’m inclined to use the same approach, at least as my “default”. I can see a few circumstances where a fine weapon might be a more important factor than fine armor when it comes to defensive Threat - like using a fine heavy weapon, say a pike, from high ground or behind a barricade. Though I can’t think of a circumstance where someone can have a fine heavy weapon and doesn’t already have fine armor (though I’m not looking it up).

This line of thought has led me to another question though: say you’re playing a Heavy with a Light Load, so fine hand weapon & armor. Earlier in the mission you burn your armor to resist Harm - do you count as Threat 1 or 2, defensively speaking? My inclination is to say using your armor won’t affect the Threat boost it provides you, otherwise I’m going to have a bunch of players hesitating to use their armor to resist.

That would count for the Position, indeed, but it would not change the difference between Threat levels, which is added to the Harm inflicted from the Position.

Yeah, when you spend your armour to reduce Harm, it does not disappear. It still counts for Threat, It would still make noise or be shiny, you would still drown in it. This is a difference between BoB and BitD.

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I have to disagree. Not about the equipment affecting the position, that’s as it should be. But in terms of determining Threat levels, the only rule presented in the book is on p. 30 which just states “fine items = +1 Threat” and never gets more specific. Meaning there’s no such thing as “right” or “wrong” when it comes to how you adjudicate things like Offensive Threat vs. Defensive Threat - we’re all just coming up with our own approaches.

My own approach is likely going to be to ask what piece of equipment - weapon, armor, etc. - is the most relevant to the issue at hand, both offensively and defensively? And then ask the follow up question “is it fine?” to determining Threat levels.

So let’s say we’ve got a Heavy with a fine pike (heavy weapon) and regular armor (for some reason, say he took a Devil’s Bargain or something). Ordinarily he’s going to have Offensive Threat 2 (fine pike) and Defensive Threat 1 (armor). Now say he’s up on a barricade, fending off a half dozen Rotters or Gaunts - I’d say his armor is immaterial in this circumstance, because the pike is acting both offensively (stabbing down at the undead) and defensively (keeping the undead out of reach). Making him Threat 2 across the board.

In that situation, I’d inflict 2 consequences on a 1-5 roll - I’d inflict the Harm, reduced b/c of the Heavy’s Threat 2, but I’d also throw in a complication: the Rotters manage to climb the barricade, meaning now the Heavy’s in more of an even melee fight. He can still use his pike (though effect might be reduced if he no longer has the space to wield it effectively), but his armor comes back into play and he’s going to be at Defensive Threat 1 going forward.

Edit to add: Also, different undead types would change the equation. Throw a Spitter or two in there, and that Heavy is back at Defensive Threat 1 - all the reach that pike affords can’t help him against a stream of projectile acid. A Heartless’ superior size might similarly compensate, and I’d say definitely if Render also has the Spearforge upgrade that gives them those massive corruption polearms.

That makes sense.

Why not? If that does not slow your game, you can interpret it in this way.

But I feel like this is complicating needlessly something which does not ask to be complicated. BoB is already more complex than BitD when it comes to Harm calculations. Equipment having a Threat level, offensive or defensive, related to its quality, is one fixed element that I don’t feel necessitates adjusting.

Moreover, I think that all examples you have given of how a piece of equipment could change its Threat can more simply be treated by adjusting the position. A guy with a good pike has no advantage against Spitters – sure, that puts him in a worse position than against Rotters.

Also, there already is in the rules a way to take advantage of some characteristics of your equipment, if it is relevant to the situation at hand: it is to take a Devil’s Bargain specifically related to the equipment, which are “lighter” than normal DBs: see the examples on p. 176 'The Devil’s in the details".

Fair enough, I’ve run BitD but not yet run BoB (after the holidays is the plan!), so you might very well be right. If it proves cumbersome I’ll jettison it for something more straightforwardly simple.

This is absolutely personal taste, but my take on the rules is that Threat/Tier ought to be ignored when determining Position. A pike is a pike is a pike - whether fine or not - they all have the same inherent qualities (reach, weight, etc.) to be considered when determining Position - and when initially determining Effect, now that I think about it. Threat/Tier comes into play when a) adjusting Effect (along with Scale & Potency) after the initial Action/fiction-based determination, and b) when calculating Harm (for BoB only).

“This is absolutely personal taste, but my take on the rules is that Threat/Tier ought to be ignored when determining Position.”

Oh, believe me, there has been looooooong discussions about this, especially on the discord. It’s a bit different in BitD than in BoB, but for Band of Blades what I have taken from those discussions (and is consistent with the author’s advice), is that the difference in Threat should indeed not impact the position… except when it would be antifictionnal and unbelievable that it wouldn’t. But fictional positioning is the main thing to consider when choosing Position. Difference in Threat is added after the roll to calculate Harm.

For Effect it’s the opposite: difference in Threat is part of the calculation from the get-go.

I was actually surprised, reading through these forums (both BitD and BoB) at how some people think Position is supposed to be determined. It’s one of those things that I think is pretty straightforwardly explained as “just go with your gut, based on story elements” and there seem to be some people whoa re convinced there’s a formula or official process to calculate it.

I prefer to keep things simple, so Soldiers & Specialists are threat 2, even if they don’t have quite a full panoply of fine weapons and armour. Differentiating between offensive and defensive threat levels slow/complicate the game without much to gain from it, in my opinion. Also, the way we narrate things, a player should find a way to go around it anyway (“I don’t have a fine armour, but I’m using my fine weapon to strike the attacker first”).

I also don’t like the incentive that tying the threat level explicitly to the gear gives players. Players tend to focus on how they can draw the most out of a rule system to improve their chance of success. I don’t blame them, incentives are built in the rule system and the more adversity they face, the harder they’ll look for any advantage they can get. If a Specialist falls in combat, I want the players to focus on the shock and drama of the death, not “hey, do I have time to take their fine equipment so I can get that Threat-2 bonus?” It’s just not the kind of calculation and roleplay I want to encourage at my table.

I too usually do not take into account the Threat in setting the position, at least not directly. When I’m setting the position on the basis of a player’s action, I usually ask myself “How bad will things go if they fail?” or “How much risk are they exposing themselves to in order to perform that action.” Sometimes, Threat can be relevant. For example, if they’re fighting a big Horror that has multiple arms, they’re exposing themselves to more risk than if they were fighting a basic rotter. It has noting to do with the threat, per se, but fighting higher threat undead can be more risky than lesser ones because they can throw more stuff at the players. Again, not necessarily, in the same scenario, an undead of higher threat than a horror could lead to a better position, especially if they are a more conventional fighter (like Render’s lieutenants).

To me, position is more a matter of context, degree, and impression than applying a formula. I use a formula to apply the harm/consequences. It’s simpler to keep track and players understand what’s going on, so the process feels fair.

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I go simple. If they’re a rookie, threat 1. If they’re a soldier or specialist, threat 2.

It’s not worth delving into the details of which specialists have which fine weapons or armor on their sheet. Specialists have the fine gear they need to do whatever it is that they do at threat 2. If the scout doesn’t have fine armor, that’s okay, because they don’t need armor to be a scout. Effectively, they have fine dodge. Similarly for the other playbooks.