Mercenary II: Force Organisation
In the last preview of the playtest rules for Book 1: Mercenary Second Edition, we demonstrated the rules for basic recruitment. Now, how to organise your recruits into a coherent force that can be used in-game…
Once you have recruited your first few soldiers, you will need to organise them into a fighting force. These will be formed into one or more units within the mercenary force.
Units are used in larger battles to handle dozens, hundreds or even thousands of fighting men without players and referees rolling for the attacks of each one. By organising a mercenary force into one or more distinct units, it will be all set to take missions and launch attacks (or fight defensive actions) against any enemy it is contracted to take on.
A mercenary force may ultimately be organised into any pattern its commander chooses as his whim, but there are certain accepted formations that have withstood the test of time, and most forces mirror these in at least some fashion.
The basic unit of any military force, mercenary or otherwise, is the squad (sometimes called a section). The size of a squad can vary wildly, dependant on the nature of the force it is part of, casualties sustained and its precise role on the battlefield. Squads typically contain between 6 and 20 fighting men (any more and it is probably best termed a horde), with 8-12 being most common. Larger formations are built by bringing a number of squads together to form a larger cohesive unit.
Again, how larger units are composed is up to the mercenary commander but there are tried and tested formations that have been proven in battle.
Platoon: 3-5 Squads
Company: 3-5 Platoons
Battalion: 3-6 Companies
Regiment: 2-5 Battalions
Larger formations, such as Divisions or Armies exist, but it is very rare for mercenary forces to reach such huge sizes. Many struggle to stay at Company size and most are based around a single platoon or two.
Units in Traveller
All units, regardless of size, are represented the same way in Traveller, with a unit roster. An example of a unit, in this case a squad of mercenary light infantry, is shown here.
Unit Name: Rawshack’s Razors Organisation: Squad
Type: Light Infantry Size: 12
Endurance: 12 Attack/Damage: +1/3D
Skills: Gun Combat (slug rifles) 1
Weapons: Assault rifle (3D)
Armour: Cloth TL10 (5)
This is the designation used to identify the unit, whether in official terms (1st Platoon, C Company, for example) or a nickname, as shown for Rawshack’s Razors.
These are used as an easy reference to define the unit, based upon its organisational size (squad, platoon, etc.). As with the unit’s name, this can be, in theory, anything the mercenary commander desires but most follow the standard organisation model described earlier.
This is the unit’s role on the battlefield and, again, its definition is largely down to the mercenary commander.
This is the number of men, robots or vehicles within the unit.
Even the most hardened soldiers have their limits. Morale represents the unit’s continued willingness to fight in extreme conditions. Most units will have a Morale of 7, though this can change depending on conditions and experience.
A unit’s basic Morale is modified by the factors shown on the table below. Other circumstances can affect Morale as shown on page XX.
|Leadership||+ Unit leader’s Leadership skill level *|
|Unit paid 10% higher salary||+1|
|Unit paid 25% higher salary||+2|
|Unit paid 50% higher salary||+3|
|Unit paid 100% higher salary||+4|
|Unit paid 10% lower salary||-2|
|Unit paid 25% lower salary||-4|
|Unit paid 50% lower salary||-6|
|Highest unit skill level 0||-1|
|Highest unit skill level 2||+1|
|Highest unit skill level 3||+2|
|Highest unit skill level 4||+3|
* Note that if the unit leader does not have the Leadership skill, the normal DM-3 for not having the skill applies.
Morale is treated as a new characteristic, and checks are made with it in the same way as other characteristics, such as Strength and Intelligence, using a modifier based upon its score as shown on page 6 of the Traveller Core Rulebook.
This represents the amount of casualties a unit can sustain before it ceases to be a functioning fighting force. Normally, Endurance is equal to the Size of the unit.
This is a quick reference that shows how skillful a unit is in battle and how much damage it deals. Combat between units is covered on page XX. Attack is equal to the skill level of the unit’s main Gun Combat, Heavy Weapons or Melee skill, and Damage is equal to the damage of the weapon used by that skill. It is possible for a unit to have multiple Attack and Damage scores to reflect different weapons it carries.
These are a number of special rules some units have to reflect their capabilities in battle. Traits are covered fully on page XX.
While the individuals of a unit will have a lot of different skills between them, this lists just relevant battle skills that all share, taken as an average. It is assumed that some members may well have higher or lower skill levels but the skill level of the majority is used.
Weapons and Armour
While a unit is likely to be carrying a great deal of varied equipment, only its main weapons and armour are recorded here, together with the damage and armour protection for easy reference.
Creating a Mercenary Force
When starting a mercenary force from scratch, it is likely individual squads will be created from individuals recently recruited. A newly formed mercenary force, therefore, is likely to have just a squad or two, meaning it can be represented by just one or two unit rosters.
As mercenary forces grow in size, things can get a little more complicated and players may find it useful to have several unit rosters, each representing different levels of the force as a whole.
For example, let us return to Rawshack’s Razors, introduced above and assume they were the first squad recruited for a new mercenary force.
Two more identical squads are later recruited, Talman’s Tigers and Banoi’s Badgers. They all have the same unit rosters as the Razors, meaning this mercenary force has three unit rosters, one for each squad.
However, there will be times when the whole mercenary force fights as a single unit – under the standard organisation model, three squads make a platoon, so a new unit roster is created to represent all three squads fighting together as a platoon-sized force.
This can be done whenever you have several units with identical Morale, Traits, Skills, Weapons and Armour, combining them into a single larger unit.
Unit Name: Rawshack’s Regulars Organisation: Platoon
Type: Light Infantry Size: 36
Endurance: 36 Attack/Damage: +1/3D
Skills: Gun Combat (slug rifles) 1
Weapons: Assault rifle (3D)
Armour: Cloth TL10 (5)
Because we have brought together three identical squads, we can simply add their Size (and thus their Endurance) together to create the platoon. When this mercenary force is used in battles, its player can decide whether to use the platoon as a single, large unit which will be more powerful than its constituent squads, or break it back down into squads for greater flexibility.
This is why it is useful to have not only a single roster representing the bulk of a mercenary force, but also rosters to cover smaller units within the greater organisation, that can be broken off for individual missions and battles.
Note that if Rawshack’s Regulars were to add a different type of squad, perhaps a heavy weapons squad, it would need its own unit roster and could not be combined into the platoon as it would have different skills and weapons.
Some units have traits, additional rules that represent equipment and abilities not reflected elsewhere in the unit roster. Many can be added to a unit simply by recruiting people with the relevant skills and equipping them accordingly. For example, to add the Support trait to a platoon-sized unit, a player need only recruit a number of people skilled with heavy weapons, such as rocket launchers, and then purchase those weapons.
The unit has several designated marksmen within its ranks, soldiers trained to pick out specific enemy targets or those within cover. These marksmen are armed with weapons designed to take advantage of their skills, typically with either dedicated sniper rifles or scoped versions of the main squad weapon.
The presence of marksmen allows one or more of the dice used to deal damage to be re-rolled upon a successful attack. The number of dice that can be re-rolled depend on the number of marksmen present, as shown on the table below.
|Number of Support Weapons||Number of Re-rolls|
One per 5 men
|One per 10 men||2D|
|One per 20 men||1D|
This unit has several members who carry support weapons such as machine guns and rocket launchers to lend a greater weight of firepower to the unit’s attacks. This increased the Damage dealt by the unit according to the number of support weapons in the unit and the damage they deal, as shown on the table below. Support weapons must either deal more damage or have a higher Auto score than the rest of the weapons carried by the unit.
|Damage of Support Weapons|
|Number of Support Weapons||3D or less||4-6D||7-8D||9-10D||12D or more|
One per 5 men
|Support +1D||Support +1D||Support +2D||Support +3D||Support +4D|
|One per 10 men||-||Support +1D||Support +1D||Support +2D||Support +3D|
|One per 20 men||-||-||Support +1D||Support +1D||Support +2D|
The unit has exceptional tough members within its ranks who are able to shrug off adversity. If the unit has a majority of members with individual Endurance scores of 9 or higher, then the unit gains the Tough +10% trait. If their Endurance scores are 12 or higher, this increases to Tough +20% and if their Endurance scores are 15 or more, this becomes Tough +30%.
A unit’s own Endurance is increased by its Tough trait. For example, a unit that normally has Endurance 20 but also has the Tough +20% trait will instead have Endurance 24.
The unit has members within its ranks who are noticeably weak and susceptible to adversity. If the unit has a majority of members with individual Endurance scores of 5 or less, then the unit gains the Weak –10% trait. If their Endurance scores are 3 or less, this decreases to Weak –20%.
A unit’s own Endurance is decreased by its Weak trait. For example, a unit that normally has Endurance 20 but also has the Weak –20% trait will instead have Endurance 16.
So, now you have recruited some warm bodies, and got them to line up in specific units. Next preview will show you how they fight!