Introducing Militia Actions to support base defense in urban rebellion play

In my Uprising & Rebellion Campaign Two the players decided to take on the Mayor’s forces in the open, rather than the dead of night or through obfuscation. In response the Mayor and his forces attacked their home base, the Rusty Clam. Dungeons & Dragons doesn’t do great for large battles.

A few tweaks I made to more represent the fiction of a rebellious militia and their allies defending their most significant resource were;

  • Have the minions represent half of a squad. The idea here was that the lesser trained guards would break morale when they lost half their group.
  • Allow the PCs to set up themselves up where they wanted. This is their territory. They know it best.
  • Added actions to represent the other rebels and commoners who side with the goals of the uprising. These Militia Actions operate similar to Lair Actions. That initial use has been modified here.

Militia Actions

For the session these operated as a Lair Action for each PC. They were taken on the initiative count 10 after their own initiative, which worked out as PC1, enemy1, Militia Action1. That part was a success.

Each Militia Action was tied to a saving throw by the NPCs. These were designed for Tier 2 play as that’s where the PCs in question are at this time, but since I used cantrips as a guideline they are easy to adjust.

Funnel – the militia and/or commoners in support of your cause build a wall using objects or themselves to block a path. This wall is 5′ long per tier of play. A successful Strength save (DC 10/15/20/25 based on tier) enables the enemy to ignore the wall.

Falling or Thrown Objects – the militia and/or commoners in support of your cause pick up objects nearby and throw them at the enemy. These objects do 1d8 damage per tier of play in a space that is 5×5/10x/10/15×15/20×20 by tier. A successful Dex save results in half damage (DC 10/15/20/25).

Overturn Stand or Cart – the militia and/or commoners in support of your cause create an area of difficult terrain by using common objects to clutter the path. Any enemy passing through the area moves must use twice their movement through the 5×5/10x/10/15×15/20×20 space by tier. They may attempt to move at normal speed, and if using the Dash or Disengage actions, must succeed on a Con save (DC 10/15/20/25) or take 1d6 per tier damage and fall Prone.

(this one needs the most work)

Harass – the militia and/or commoners in support of your cause harass and pester the enemies in such a way that limits their defenses. This can be done by word or by minor physical altercation. The next attack by that enemy NPC or intelligent monster is at disadvantage. A successful Int save (DC 10/15/20/25) results in no disadvantage.

Distract – the militia and/or commoners in support of your cause harass and pester the enemies in such a way that limits their attacks. This can be done by word or by minor physical altercation. The next attack against that enemy NPC or intelligent monster is at advantage. A successful Int save (DC 10/15/20/25) results in no advantage.

Rally – the militia and/or commoners in support of your cause shouts in support of the PCs. The PCs are then granted 1d6 temporary hit points per tier of play. A successful Cha save (DC 10/15/20/25) by the leader of the enemy results in no temporary hit points being granted, this is to represent their ability to speak over or interrupt the rallying calls.

Changes for the future?

I may tie these to various skills or tools rather than saving throws. I had the players roll, and asking players to roll under for a success just didn’t make sense.

Finally, I think I would allow a summoned swarm from the Propagandist use these when the Propagandist commands them via a bonus action. This would help raise the power level of a subclass that lacks in combat, though in many campaigns this wouldn’t be enough.

Design Goals

The primary inspirations for these actions were to mimic some of the play of Assassin’s Creed, where the small crowd of neutrals and allies can support your violence. There are also scenes in Black Sails where the common people of Nassau join the fight against the British. The invasion of Tear and other conflicts in the Wheel of Time feature actions by commoners supporting the heroes too. Various Robin Hood tales, the rescue of The Shire, the movie Aladdin, and so many other tales have common peoples helping the heroes by impeding the enemy.

While highly urbanized campaigns aren’t common in D&D, they should be supported. The literature and other inspirations for the game do have these elements. Our game can include them in ways that are more than just background story.

What improvements do you see needing attention?

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