Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sentry Duty

Sentry Duty

In two previous posts I discussed the Hôtel d'Angoulême in Paris and the marching pace of soldiers in the black powder era. In this post I combine the two for a back of the envelope calculation of how long it takes the guards to walk sentry. This will be useful if the PCs decide to sneak through the garden.

Below is a map of the mansion with guards shown. The guards in the garden area of the mansion. The PCs were able to see the guards in the garden area of the mansion through the wrought iron fence that separates the mansion's gardens from the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois. Given the garden layout and the fact that the trees are not too large nor too close together, a simple rectangular loop seemed reasonable. This loop would allow the guards to pass close to all the entrances to the garden and from the garden to the mansion, with one exception--more on that later.

I decided that the guards would focus on preventing access to the house, by first preventing access to the garden. Thus they would physically inspect the two gates leading into the garden and those gates would be kept locked. In addition, they would physically inspect the door leading from the garden into the north wing of the house. Since that door is so close to an exterior gate, it provides the greatest vulnerability for rapid access to the house by any intruders. 

I decided the guards would slowly pace while on their rounds. I did this for several reasons, first they can't walk to fast or they might miss something they are supposed to spot. Second, in most movies the guards always pace slow enough so that some commando can run up behind them to take them out. And third, I wanted to allow a long enough time period between checks so it would be possible, but not trivial, for the PCs to climb walls or fences or pick locks without being spotted.
So the 2 sentries - I decided their would be two guards together rather than one because I was envisioning the villain as placing his mansion on a high state of alert and because his guards are veteran troops not ordinary regulars, nor militia or rabble - would pace their rounds. Similarly I decided the guards would make use of the watchtower to keep an eye on the two streets that border the mansion proper. This would alert them to any large force or mob coming their way. I also assumed that there was a possibility that guards in the house itself would now and then look out to check the outside. I assigned a probability of 1/3 that a guard would be in position to observe any outside action in view of the house. Of course they would still need to make a Savvy roll to spot anything that wasn't as obvious as a bonfire in the garden or a torch wielding mob. Since the garden sentries didn't pass the front door at the top of the garden stairs and since that landing gives a fairly commanding view of the garden, I placed another pair of guards there.
To time the pacing sentries, I used the scale that I created and physically measured the lenght of the rectangular route. I added an extra 4 seconds for a quick physical check - rattling the doorknob as it were - and another 4 seconds for a salute that the sentries would perform once per circuit. During the salute they would be visually checking for the 2 guards that stand on the landing at the top of the garden stairs outside the front door of the mansion. First I compared speeds to what I think of as a moderate walking speed of 3 mph. That's not fast, but not too leisurely. Next I compared the various marching paces listed in the post on marching. Finally, I settled on the slow march pace which gave a time of 3.5 minutes. Which was about what I was intuitively hoping for. Yeah realism. 

Finally I placed two other guard pairs on the opposite side of the house. The courtyard side gate that leads onto the rue Pavée is the less formal entrance, so it sees the most use. So I put a guard pair permanently at that gate. I then put a second pair in the upper courtyard as reinforcements and to guard the main secondary entrance to the mansion proper. This resulted in a total of 10 guards on watch at a time.

Lastly I created a reinforcement table. I did this for several reasons. First I couldn't find an actual plan for the mansion or its outbuildings. A table allows uncertainty in how long it takes for reinforcements without my having to track actual locations on a non-existent house plan. Second, Pawns in Honor+Intrigue are not much of a challenge for the PCs, all of whom are very skillful swordsmen so I wanted the ability to have lots of pawns eventually show up without troubling myself with exactly where they were.

For the reinforcements I wanted the likelihood of more guards arriving in any round to be good, but not automatic. I also wanted some reinforcements to definitely arrive after some number of rounds. I didn't want a situation where a string of bad die rolls on my part might see no reinforcements show up at all. That would be (a) dull and (b) unreasonable behavior for veteran guards. Since H+I uses d6s, I decided that I would roll 1d6 each round and if the die roll was less than or equal to the number of rounds since the last reinforcements appeared, then another 4 guards would arrive at the PC's location or at least where there was noise, light, etc. So after the first round of alarm, noise, etc. there was a 1/6 chance and each round the chance would increase until 4 guards arrived. Then the roll would reset to a 2/6 chance incrementing by 1 each round. 

I did this so that there would be a sense of urgency. If the PCs attracted attention they had better act quickly or soon all the guards would be attacking them. Also, if an alarm continues it seems reasonable that more and more guards will arrive rather than a slow and steady trickle. But, because I like challenges that are set so if the players come up with a good strategy or they roll really well or the bad guys roll really poorly, then victory is relatively easy and assured. I don't want the GM (i.e. me) to be able to just keep throwing more pawns at the PCs. Unlimited number of opponents is cheating (from my perspective as a GM). So I set the total number of guards at 40. That is a lot of guards if they all attacked at once. That number combined with their leaders and the villain would defeat and kill or capture the PCs (unless they ran really fasts). But that's fine since it is the job of the players to come up with a plan that doesn't involve fighting all the guards at the same time. And since 10 guards are on duty at any one time,with 40 guards that means they can easily stand watches constantly and there is even some slack in case the boss wants some guards to accompany him away from the mansion.
Here's how it comes out:

Guards at the Hôtel d'Angoulême
·         2 on sentry patrol in the garden;
·         2 at front door at top of garden stairs;
·         2 at back gate;
·         2 in upper courtyard or back door;
·         2 in watchtower.
·      Any disturbance has a chance to bring another 4 guards; roll 1d6 each round increasing the chance by 1 each round until reinforcements appear.
·         After the first group of reinforcements, reset the die roll to 2/6 and start again.
·         After the nth group of reinforcements arrives, reset the chance of a new group at n/6.
·         There are 40 guards total.
·         There are 2 guard officers; use the stats for the Army/Guard Lieutenant from page 169.

* While the guard with the halberd is armed like the guards in my scenario, he is actually a member of the Spanish Royal Guard, so the color/uniform is incorrect. The actual colors would match the coat of arms of the Duc d'Angoulême or that of his son, the Comte de Lauraguais. The son's coat of arms is shown at right.

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