House Rules: Mass Combat - Special Abilities

Certain creatures and classes have unique abilities that may play a part in mass combat, granting that unit with those abilities. Modifiers for these abilities apply only if most of the troops in a unit have the listed ability. Unless otherwise stated, bonuses and penalties provided by boons are multiplied by the unit's size modifier (minimum +1 bonus and -1 penalty). Note that you count as your own ally for abilities that effect allied units. For class abilities, the class level of the unit's troops must be high enough to have acquired those abilities.

  • Ability Damage or Drain: When you successfully attack in melee, the defending unit takes a -1d4 penalty to MV, RV, and DV for the remainder of the battle.
  • Alchemy: Once per battle round, the unit can use the Alchemical Creation resource for free.
  • Amorphous: This unit is immune to critical hits in mass combat; when an attacking unit rolls a natural 20 on its attack, they deal normal damage.
  • Amphibious: The unit can move in or across bodies of water and ignore Defense from water barriers.
  • Animal Companion: The unit’s animal companions increase the unit’s MV by 1. Animal companions that are at least one size category larger than the unit's creatures count as the Light Mounts resource for free which do not increase the unit's Consumption.
  • Aquatic: The unit increases its MV and DV by 1 against armies in the water or on ships. The unit decreases its MV by 2 against armies on land (unless the unit also has the amphibious special ability, in which case it doesn’t have this MV penalty).
  • Astral Suit: During the Tactical phase, this unit can choose to gain the effects of having the Medium or Heavy Armor resources without cost. The unit also begins knowing one of the following tactics: Magical Advantage, Magical Barrage, Magical Protection, or Magical Trickery, provided its members have spells or spell-like abilities of the appropriate type to qualify for each tactic. They are later able to learn the remaining Magical tactics as normal.
  • Arcane Spellcasting: A unit comprised of arcane spellcasters or creatures with spell-like abilities begins knowing one of the following tactics: Magical Advantage, Magical Barrage, or Magical Protection, provided its members have astral suit customizations of the appropriate type to qualify for each tactic. They can only target themselves with Magical Advantage and Magical Protection. They are later able to learn the remaining Magical tactics as normal.
  • Aura of Courage: The unit is immune to fear effects and automatically succeeds at Morale checks to avoid a rout.
  • Armor Training: This class feature removes the speed penalties of units in medium armor.
  • Bane: Once per day, a unit with this ability can gain a +1 bonus to OM to one attack. If successful, the attack deals an extra 1d3 points of damage. This ability affects only a single attack, even if this unit would be eligible to make an extra attack later in the Action phase, such as against a retreating unit.
  • Banner: A unit with this ability gains a +1 bonus to Morale checks to avoid routing, and it gains a +1 bonus to MV when using any of the following tactics: Cavalry Experts, Furious Charge, Overwhelming Onslaught, Pursuit.
  • Bleed: When this unit deals damage in melee, the target unit takes an automatic 1d6 points of damage at the start of the next phase.
  • Blindsense: The unit reduces its MV and DV penalties by half from darkness, invisibility, and weather, and gains a +5 bonus to its Scouting modifier.
  • Blindsight: The unit takes no penalties to its MV and DV from darkness, invisibility, or weather, and gains a +10 bonus to its Scouting modifier.
  • Bomb: This ability functions as the breath weapon ability.
  • Brawlers: A unit whose members possess the augmented critical, rake, or rend abilities gains +1 MV for each ability it possesses when attacking an unit with which it is already engaged.
  • Breath Weapon: The unit can make Range attacks. When making Range and Melee attacks, it deals +1 points of damage per 3 dice of damage (rounding down) that their breath weapon deals.
  • Brew Potion: The unit can create healing or magical potions resources for itself or another unit without needing any of the building requirements described in the resource description. You must pay the BP cost for these potions as normal.
  • Burn: This ability functions as bleed.
  • Burrow: The unit can spend an act to become burrowed. While burrowed, it can only attack or be attacked by other units who have the burrow or earth glide special abilities, and it can advance as normal at its burrow speed through a zone with a fortification. When inside the zone with a fortification, it can choose to do melee attacks against its occupying units; however the unit loses its burrowed status, and the occupying units still gain the fortification's Defense bonus. The occupying units lose their fortification's Defense bonus against attacks from this unit on the following rounds as long as this unit does not leave the zone.
  • Cannibalize: Reduce Consumption by half (minimum 0) for any week in which the unit wins a battle and is allowed to feed on fallen corpses of an army of equal or greater size.
  • Challenge: Once per battle, the unit may increase its OM by 2 against a target unit, but it also reduces its DV by 1 against attacks from any unit that is not the target unit. These effects last for the rest of the battle.
  • Change Shape: The unit's Camouflage score increases by 3.
  • Channel Negative Energy: When making a Melee attack, the unit deals +1d4 points of damage against a living target unit. If the unit with this ability is undead, instead of dealing extra damage to an enemy unit, it can use this ability to heal itself; if it takes an OM penalty equal to half its UCR for one Ranged or Melee attack, it heals a number of hit points equal to its UCR.
  • Channel Positive Energy: When making a Melee attack, the unit deals +1d4 points of damage against an undead target unit. Instead of dealing extra damage to an enemy unit, the unit can use this ability to heal itself or an allied unit in the same zone; if it takes an OM penalty equal to half its UCR for one act, it heals a number of hit points equal to its UCR.
  • Charger: A unit whose members possess the pounce, powerful charge, or trample abilities gains +1 MV for each ability it possesses when attacking a unit with which it is not already engaged.
  • Climb: A unit with a climb speed can use the Advance action to move through zones with a vertical obstacle, such as a cliffside or the walls of a fortification, with two Advance actions. When in a zone with a fortification (except Moats), the unit can make melee attacks against the occupying units. When the unit makes their first melee attack against occupying units, the unit becomes vulnerable for the remainder of that battle round as their are exposed while climbing, allowing other units to gain advantage with their attacks against the climbing unit, and the targeted occupying unit still gains the fortification's Defense bonus. On the following rounds, if the climbing unit did not leave the zone with the fortification, they are considered on the fortification; they are no longer vulnerable, and occupying units they attack do not gain the fortification's Defense bonus.
  • Combat Style: At the beginning of battle, choose to increase either the unit’s MV or RV by 1 for the rest of the battle.
  • Constant Invisibility: The unit has the invisibility special ability (see below). In addition, their invisibility is not removed during battle. Any unit attacking this unit takes a –1 penalty to its MV and RV for that attack. Any unit attacked by this unit takes a –1 penalty to its DV against its attacks. Units that cannot see invisible creatures cannot prevent this unit from withdrawing.
  • Create Sandstorm: Once per battle, the unit can affect the field of battle with the sandstorm battlefield condition. The sandstorm lasts for the rest of the battle.
  • Create Spawn: If the unit destroys a living unit of equal or greater size, it may immediately recover a number of hit points equal to twice its UCR or create a new unit of its type but two sizes smaller than itself.
  • Construct: The unit is immune to disease, fear, paralysis, and poison, and never rout or become fatigued.
  • Create Spawn: If a unit with the energy drain ability destroys a living humanoid unit of equal or greater size, it may add a new unit of its own type to itself; a unit with 5 units already cannot create spawn.
  • Damage Reduction (Greater): A unit gains a +1 bonus to DV per 5 points of DR/chaotic, evil, good, or lawful, or DR/magic. Attacking armies cannot ignore this bonus unless they have appropriately aligned weapons or natural attacks or if they are attacking with magical abilities that bypass damage reduction.
  • Damage Reduction (Improved): A unit gains a +1 bonus to DV per 5 points of DR/bludgeoning, cold iron, piercing, silver, or slashing. Armies with superior weapons or magic weapons ignore this bonus. Attacking armies that have magical weapons or have damage reduction (magic) themselves ignore this, as do magical abilities that bypass damage reduction.
  • Damage Reduction (Magic): This unit gains a +1 bonus to DV per 5 points of DR/magic. Attacking armies that have magical weapons or have damage reduction (magic) themselves ignore this, as do magical abilities that bypass damage reduction.
  • Darkvision: The unit takes no OM or DV penalties in dim light or darkness.
  • Discovery: This ability functions as bleed.
  • Disease: If the unit damages an enemy, the enemy becomes diseased and takes a cumulative –1 penalty to its OM and DV each day after the battle. Curing the disease requires a successful Stability check modified by this penalty, and allows the unit to reduce this penalty by 1 each day thereafter until the penalty is gone. The disease can also be cured by a unit with the Magical Healing tactic or the Triage special ability.
  • Divine Bond: This unit gains either Magical Weapons or Heavy Mounts for one battle round per day. This does not affect the unit’s Consumption.
  • Divine Health: The unit is immune to disease.
  • Divine Spellcasting: A unit comprised of divine spellcasters or creatures with spell-like abilities begins knowing one of the following tactics: Magical Advantage, Magical Healing, or Magical Protection tactics, provided its members have spells or spell-like abilities of the appropriate type to qualify for each tactic. They are later able to learn the remaining Magical tactics as normal.
  • Dwarven Resilience: A unit of dwarves does not have its movement rate reduced when wearing Medium Armor or Heavy Armor and gains a +1 bonus to DV and Morale checks to resist poison and magical effects. The unit also gains a +2 DV bonus against armies comprised of creatures with the giant subtype.
  • Earth Glide: This ability functions as the burrow special ability.
  • Eidolon: This ability functions as the animal companion ability.
  • Elven Grace: A unit of elves gains a +1 bonus to Morale checks to resist Magical Trickery and a +1 bonus to scouting checks.
  • Endurance: A unit with this ability gains a +2 bonus to Morale checks to avoid fatigue or endure the effects of extreme climates.
  • Energy Drain: If the unit damages an enemy, it reduces the enemy’s OM and DV by 1 for 24 hours, and the attacking unit removes 2 Casualties each time it damages a living unit.
  • Energy Immunity: A unit with this ability takes no damage from attacks of the energy type to which it is immune.
  • Energy Resistance: A unit with this ability gains a +1 DV bonus for each 10 points of resistance against attacks with the enery type it has resistance to.
  • Evasion: A unit that attacks this unit halves damage from the breath weapon ability and attacks with the Magical Barrage tactic.
  • Fast Healing: At the beginning of the Tactical phase, this unit regains a number of hit points equal to half its fast healing value. Outside of battle, each hour the unit regains a number of hit points equal to its fast healing value.
  • Favored Enemy: The unit increases its MV and RV by 1 against a unit of a type of creature chosen from the ranger favored enemy list.
  • Favored Terrain: Reduce an enemy’s bonuses from advantageous terrain and battlefield advantage by half, gains a +1 bonus to both Scouting and Camouflage and can use the Living off the Land command boon whenever they are in their favored terrain.
  • Ferocity: The unit continues to fight even if demoralized or nearly dead. If the unit is defeated or routed, it may continue to act for one more battle round, and its OM and DV are reduced by 4 for that phase. The unit can also attack even when it has lost all of its sections (with the -5 penalty to all rolls due to loss sections). Creatures with the orc ferocity racial trait or its equivalent also gain this ability.
  • Flight: If the unit is not engaged in melee with a ground unit, it cannot be attacked with melee attacks except by a unit with flight. The unit ignores fortifications as obstacles to moving through zones. It also ignores the Defense bonus from City Walls, but not other fortifications.
  • Flurry of Blows: When making their first Melee attack, increase the unit’s MV by 1. When making a second and subsequent Melee attacks, increase it by 2 instead.
  • Grab: The unit’s units latch onto their opponents, making it difficult to escape. The target unit takes a –2 penalty on Morale checks to resist a rout or use the withdraw tactic.
  • Greater Animal Companion: The unit’s animal companions allow the unit to attack climbing, flying, or swimming armies in melee, with a -4 penalty to MV. When fighting a unit on the ground, the animal companions can serve as Light Mounts without increasing the unit’s Consumption.
  • Greater Favored Enemy: This unit increases its MV and RV by 2 against a unit comprised of one creature type and by +1 against a second creature type. If attacking a mounted unit, if this bonus applies against either the mount or the rider’s creature type, it applies against that unit.
  • Greater Inspire Courage: This unit gains a +2 bonus to MV and RV and a +3 bonus to Morale checks to avoid routing. In addition, when they are engaged with an enemy unit, any allied unit engaged with the same enemy unit gains the same bonuses. They also share these bonuses with any allied unit using the Screening Defense tactic to protect them (or vice versa).
  • Halfling Luck: A unit of halflings gains a +1 bonus to all Morale checks.
  • Hex: When you create a unit with this ability, choose either healing or cauldron.
    • Cauldron: The unit can create healing potions for itself or another unit without needing any of the building requirements described in the healing potion resource. You must pay the BP cost for these potions as normal.
    • Healing: Once per battle, the unit can heal a number of hit points equal to half its UCR.
  • Hunter’s Bond: When you create a unit with this ability, choose either companions or animal.
    • Companions: Once per battle, the unit may increase its MV and RV or an allied unit’s MV or RV by 1 for the rest of the battle.
    • Animal: This ability functions as animal companion.
  • Immunity: If a unit is immune to a particular special ability (such as poison), an enemy unit with that ability doesn’t gain those benefits against this unit. For a unit with many immunities, also see significant defense.
  • Improved Uncanny Dodge: A unit with this ability negates any bonuses an attacking unit would gain from any of the following Tactics: Expert Flankers, False Retreat, Pincer Maneuver.
  • Incorporeal: The unit takes no damage from non-magical attacks, and only half damage from magical attacks. It ignores enemy DV bonuses from armor resources. It automatically succeeds at checks to withdraw. It has a mobility advantage in all kinds of terrain.
  • Inspire Courage: The unit increases its MV and RV by 1 and gains a +2 bonus on Morale checks against fear and routs. Alternatively, the unit may apply these bonuses to an allied unit in the same battle.
  • Invisibility: The unit has a temporary form of invisibility that is removed during battle. This unit gains a +10 bonus to its Camouflage score.
  • Judgment: Once each Ranged or Melee attack, the unit may choose to increase its damage by 1, increase its DV by 1, heal a number of hit points equal to half its UCR, or treat its attacks as magic weapons. This ability is suspended for any phase in which the unit is unable to attack because of fear, and ends immediately if the unit routs.
  • Ki Pool: The unit’s attacks count as magic weapons.
  • Lay on Hands: This ability functions as channel positive energy.
  • Light Blindness: A unit of creatures with this special quality take penalties in bright light (see Visibility) as other creatures would take in darkness.
  • Light Sensitivity: A unit of creatures with this special quality takes penalties in bright light (see Visibility) as other creatures would take in dim light.
  • Low-Light Vision: The unit takes no penalties for dim light.
  • Maneuver Initiating: A unit comprised of martial initiators abilities begins knowing one of the following tactics: Magical Advantage, Magical Barrage, Magical Protection, or Magical Trickery tactics, using their highest maneuver level instead of spell level. They are later able to learn the remaining Magical tactics as normal.
  • Marksmanship: A unit with this ability ignores up to 2 points of Defense bonus that a defending unit gains from terrain or fortifications. If shooting at an enemy unit engaged with a friendly unit, you never inflict friendly fire damage. Requirements: Precise Shot feat, Weapon Focus (bow or firearm).
  • Mercy: A unit with this ability can remove fatigue from itself when it heals itself with lay on hands. At the end of a battle, the unit can cure a disease on one allied unit. Requirements:
  • Mettle: Apply the unit’s mettle bonus on Morale checks against fear and routs.
  • Mindless: The unit never fails Morale checks, but must always use standard tactics and strategy.
  • Mobility: If the units have a form of mobility that gives them an advantage in the battlefield’s terrain (such as boggards in a swamp), increase the unit’s OM by 1 for that battle against armies without such mobility.
  • Mount: The unit gains the Mounts resource for free.
  • Orcish Ferocity: A unit of half-orcs or orcs gains the Ferocity special ability and gains a +1 bonus to opposed Morale checks when fighting an unit that has taken more casualties than they have.
  • Order: When using the challenge ability, increase the unit’s DV by 1 against the challenged unit.
  • Paralysis: Each time the unit damages an enemy unit, reduce the enemy unit’s DV by 1 and its Speed by 10 ft. If the enemy unit's speed reaches 0, that unit can continue to fight but cannot move, disengage, retreat, or withdraw, nor can it prevent enemy armies from disengaging or attack them when they do. The effects of paralysis can be removed by the Magical Healing ability. In addition, a unit can attempt a Morale check at the beginning of the next Rout phase to reduce the DV penalty caused by paralysis by 1, and the speed penalty by 10 ft.
  • Petrification: This ability functions as paralysis, but this effect cannot be removed by Magical Healing.
  • Plant: The unit is immune to fear, paralysis, and poison.
  • Poison Resistance: If the unit takes poison damage, reduce the damage by half of the unit’s poison resistance bonus.
  • Poison: This ability functions as bleed.
  • Pounce: The unit increases its MV by 2 when using the Furious Charge tactic.
  • Powerful Charge: The unit increases the damage it deals by 2 when using the Furious Charge tactic.
  • Psionic Manifesting: A unit comprised of psionic manifesters or creatures with psi-like abilities begins knowing one of the following tactics: Magical Advantage, Magical Barrage, Magical Protection, or Magical Trickery tactics, provided its members have psionic or psi-like abilities of the appropriate type to qualify for each tactic. They are later able to learn the remaining Magical tactics as normal.
  • Psychic Spellcasting: A unit comprised of psychic spellcasters or creatures with spell-like abilities begins knowing one fo the following tactics: Magical Advantage, Magical Barrage, Magical Protection, or Magical Trickery tactics, provided its members have spells or spell-like abilities of the appropriate type to qualify for each tactic. They are later able to learn the remaining Magical tactics as normal.
  • Rage: Once per battle, the commander may order the unit to rage. Increase the unit’s MV by 2, decrease its DV by 1, and add a +1 bonus on its Morale checks against fear and routing. While this is in effect, the unit can’t use the tactics cautious combat, defensive wall, expert flankers, hold the line, sniper support, or withdraw; nor can it use the defensive or cautious strategies. If using such a tactic or strategy, you immediately switch to the standard tactic or strategy.
  • Rake: The unit increases the damage it deals by 1.
  • Regeneration: At the end of the Action phase, each section of the unit regains a number of hit points equal to half its regeneration value. When a unit with regeneration is reduced to 0 hp, it is defeated only if at least one enemy unit survives at the end of that phase to finish off the regenerating creatures. Outside of battle, the unit regains a number of hit points equal to half its regeneration value each hour.
  • Rend: The unit increases the damage it deals by 1.
  • Resistance: See the entry for significant defense.
  • Resolve: Once per battle, a unit with this ability can remove the fatigued condition from itself or can reroll any Morale check.
  • Rock Catching: The unit increases its DV by 1 against ranged attacks. This increases by an additional 1 if the unit is attacked with siege weapons or thrown rocks.
  • Rock Throwing: The unit can make ranged attacks. When making Range attacks, it deals +4 points of damage.
  • Rogue Talent: The unit gains the bleed ability.
  • Scent: The unit reduces its MV and DV penalties from darkness, invisibility, and weather by half, and gains a +5 bonus to its Scouting modifier.
  • Shield Ally: Increase the unit’s DV by 1.
  • Significant Defense: The unit has a significant defense such as powerful damage reduction or numerous immunities and/or resistances. Increase its DV by 10, but only against armies that can’t overcome those defenses. In some cases, the GM might rule that a unit is simply undefeatable by an enemy unit because of its defenses (though the GM should never pit the PCs against such a unit unless the PCs initiate a foolish battle). Requirements:
  • Smite Evil: In one Tactical phase per battle, the unit may increase its OM by 1 against an evil unit. If the target unit is undead or evil outsiders, the OM increases by 2 instead. In addition, when this ability is used, this unit’s attacks ignores any damage reduction if the defending unit is evil. This ability can be used in only one Battle Turn per day.
  • Smite Good: This functions identically to Smite Evil, but with an enhanced effect against good creatures.
  • Sneak Attack: The unit increases its MV and RV by 1 when making an ambush, on the phase after using the False Retreat tactic, or in conjunction with the Pincer Maneuver Tactic or the Expert Flankers or Wolves in the Fold command boons. In addition, on a successful attack when using this ability, the attack deals an additional +1 point of damage for every 2 levels of the ninjas or rogues in the unit over 1st.
  • Speed Surge: Once per battle, the unit can take a 3rd act during one battle round to make a move action.
  • Spell Resistance: This unit gains +1 DV and a +1 bonus to Morale per 5 points of spell resistance, but these bonuses apply only when an attacking unit uses the Magical Advantage, Magical Barrage, or Magical Trickery command boons.
  • Stunning Fist: This ability functions as paralysis.
  • Swarm: The unit takes half damage from non-magical attacks, but 1-1/2 times as much damage from magical attacks. It ignores DV bonuses from armor resources. It can’t harm a unit with the incorporeal or significant defense ability. It automatically succeeds at checks to withdraw.
  • Swim: The unit is able to move through a zone with a water obstacle at its swim speed, and the Moat fortification does not impede its movement. While in a zone with a Moat or water obstacle, the unit can only melee attack or be melee attacked by units with the swim special ability. However, it becomes vulnerable to range attacks, and range attacking units gain advantage. This can be negated by using an Advance action to change depths (see Battle Zones: Altitude Zones).
  • Tactician: The unit automatically learns one tactic (usually the cavalry experts tactic); this doesn’t count toward a unit’s maximum number of known tactics.
  • Teleportation: The unit ignores the Defense of fortifications. It automatically succeeds at checks to withdraw. Ethereal travel and similar effects also grant this ability. A unit with teleportation can travel to any hex on the same day (its speed is irrelevant and not hampered by difficult terrain).
  • Touch Attack: A unit able to make melee or ranged touch attacks ignores any DV bonuses provided by Medium Armor, Heavy Armor, or Shields.
  • Track: The unit adds its UCR to Morale checks to prevent a unit from using the withdraw tactic and to its DV to prevent ambushes. It reduces the damage it deals in fog by one quarter instead of one half, gains a +1 bonus to its Scouting score.
  • Trackless Step: A unit with this ability gains a +1 bonus to its Camouflage score.
  • Trap Sense: When using the siegebreaker tactic, the unit adds half its UCR to the Offense check to determine if a siege engine is destroyed.
  • Tremorsense: The unit reduces its MV and DV penalties from darkness, invisibility, and weather by half, and gains a +5 bonus to its Scouting modifier.
  • Triage: The unit can use this ability to heal itself or an allied unit in the same zone by spending 1 act, healing a number of hit points equal to its UCR. The recipient unit's leader can decide how to split the healing among its sections.
  • Trip: When the unit makes Melee attack, the target enemy unit reduces its DV by 1 and takes a -10 ft. Speed penalty until the end of the current Action phase.
  • Uncanny Dodge: If a unit with this ability is ambushed, the attacking unit must resolve the attack as a normal attack. A unit with this ability is unaffected by Feint tactics.
  • Undead: The unit is immune to disease, fear, paralysis, and poison. Its DV increases by 1.
  • Unnatural Aura: This ability functions as fear, but applies only to animals (including animal mounts).
  • Vortex: This ability functions as paralysis, but only against targets on or in the water and if the attacking unit chooses to remain engaged with the defending unit. A unit with this ability gains +1 OM against swimming or shipboard armies and can automatically disengage from them after attacking in melee, and automatically succeeds at opposed checks to retreat or withdraw. A unit with vortex can also attack two swimming or shipboard armies in the same Action phase, making separate Melee attacks against each and dealing half damage with each attack. The Screening Defense tactic is ineffective against a unit with the vortex ability.
  • Weapon Specialization: Once per battle, increase the unit’s OM for either ranged or melee attacks by 2.
  • Whirlwind: This ability functions as paralysis, only if the attacking unit chooses to remain engaged with the defending unit. A unit with this ability gains +1 OM against flying armies and can automatically disengage from any unit after attacking in melee, automatically succeeding at opposed checks to retreat or withdraw. A unit with the whirlwind ability can also attack two armies in the same Action phase, making separate Melee attacks against each and dealing half damage with each attack. The Screening Defense tactic is ineffective against a unit with the whirlwind ability.
  • Wild Empathy: A unit with this ability gains a +1 DV bonus against units that include animals, including units with mounts.
  • Wild Shape: Once per battle, the unit may gain the aquatic, amphibious, climb, darkvision, flight, low-light vision, or scent special abilities, but loses the spellcasting ability while this is in effect. The unit can end this ability in any later phase.
  • Woodland Stride: A unit with this ability ignores penalties from rough terrain (see Terrain) comprised of plants, undergrowth, and trees.
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