Pictish tactics in role-playing
The Picts in Scotland were unbeaten. Not even the Roman Legions could stand against their ferocious battle skill and tactics; their only recourse against these warriors was to lay two walls across Scotland, pinning in what they could not defeat on the field of battle.
Here’s one killer Pictish formation that translates particularly well over to D&D.
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A unit would be made up of four lightly armed and armoured men. Most Pictish warriors wore nothing but war paint, but some wore hide or leather armour.
The lead man would wield a short sword and shield. Very close behind him stood an unarmoured warrior wielding two handaxes, using them around the side of the sword wielder to strike at the front. To either side of them stood unarmoured warriors with spears. Again, they would strike at the front, but could quickly turn to the sides or back to cover the central two fighters.
The unit would look like this:
R HAND R A AXES A E SHORT E P SWORD P S +SHIELD S
This is a very closely co-ordinated team who are able to make 5 attacks each round against the front as well tackle opponents from any direction. It’s the human equivalent of a tank on the battlefield.
In D&D terms this attack pattern would give the following advantages:
– All members of the team would benefit from the Shield Bonus of the short sword wielder against attacks from the front; he is watching and blocking any attacks from the front against the team.
– All members can attack against opponents at the front.
I’d suggest that in order to qualify the unit members would need to have taken a “Pictish Fighting” feat. This would also add “Survival” as a class skill if it isn’t one already, or a +2 bonus if it is.
Here’s an example Pictish unit.
Short Sword + Shield wielder – Paladin-3. His Aura of Courage is perfect for the legendary Pictish fearlessness. It’ll give all of the unit +4 against Fear. Smite Evil is good for those final killer blows, and Lay on Hands is good for after battle healing
Hand Axe wielder – Monk-3. Fast, unarmoured and deadly. Flurry of Blows with paired handaxes + Evasion. What more needs to be said?
Spear wielders – Rogue-3. The Monk Handaxe wielder uses Stunning Fist (I ruled this as an ok tactic) first then the spear wielders can sneak attack. This gives +2d6 damage on each attack. Ouch! Again, Evasion is a potential life saver. The high skill points for the Rogue should be pumped into Listen, Hide and Spot; these are the eyes and ears of the team.
As for feat choice, all members of this unit would benefit from Dodge, Weapon Focus and anything that aids their mobility. The Rogues in particular would benefit from Combat Reflexes. At least one of the unit should have Track.
Put a little Pictish flavour into your game. It’ll shake up those rank-and-file fighter types!