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In the Forgotten Realms Campaign Settings is written that Archendale has the strongest army of all the Dales: 10 rides of 60 mounted warriors. Knowing that the Dalelands militia (RPG stats Archfiends or D&D Miniatures: Warband Generator ) are war1/exp1 the Archenriders should be at least level 2. I think the Riders should have similar stats, but do you think they could have fighter or higher warrior levels? Any quoted information could be very useful.

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"Strongest army" doesn't necessarily mean that the individual soldiers are the highest level... – mxyzplk Jun 16 '12 at 23:20
What mxyzplk said. Cavalry tend to be highly effective against troops on foot. Even without that advantage, superior tactics and quality equipment can grant great advantage. For example, if every one of those horsemen carried a ten-foot pole, and each ride was drilled to assume railgun formation... – GMJoe Jun 18 '12 at 6:22
Yes that's true and in fact I know that Archenriders are armed even with longspears, but knowing of Archendale's military politic I thought that perhaps Archenriders have more experience (levels in game) than other Dales' militia. – Vamsi Mizzrym Jun 18 '12 at 11:39
@VamsiMizzrym Yes and that does explain the question, but it remains that we're unlikely to be able to answer the question, as it is premised on an interpretation of text that likely isn't supported elsewhere in FR canon. – SevenSidedDie Jun 21 '12 at 3:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

As a thought experiment, we first look at the text of the original boxed set that states:

These are mounted forces of men-at-arms, dressed in chain and carrying swords, lance, and composite bow. Each ride has a "ridemaster" of fifth level or higher.

By the rules of the game, the way to amass armies outside of GM fiat is through the Leadership feat. Optimally, we would be able to derive the 10 rides through the three "leaders" listed here.

Archendale is well-defended by an army composed of 10 Rides of 60 mounted soldiers each, equipped with chainmail, swords, lances, and composite bows. Three Rides are located at Swordpoint, one at White Ford, and a fifth is usually dispersed throughout the Dale in 10-man patrols.

The Red Sword is an intelligent young officer, named Dheren Ogresbane (LN hm F8.) He commands one of the Rides of the Archendale army, and only appears as the Red Sword on rare occasions. The Red Sword is the champion of Archendale's army, and continually pursues the army's agenda.

The Black Sword is a grizzled old warrior named Jalia Mossgreen (CG hf F12.) She is the oldest of the Swords, and is in semi-retirement, Jalia does not command any field troops, but does supervise the Archenbridge militia. She owns and operates the Old Stonebows inn, and is the most prominent of the Swords.

The Blue Sword is a merchant-wizard named Alduvar Snowbrand (NG hm W9.) Alduvar is the proprietor of Jendalar's Fine Fruits, and served as a battle-mage in the army for years. When he appears, he masks himself in the illusion of a vigorous cavalry man of middle years. Alduvar is an advocate of strengthening ties with Sembia, believing that the Dales need new allies now that the elves are gone.

Just to be clear here, the above descriptions should be sufficient to establish well lead forces with levels for their leader, on warhorses. If, however, you need specific breakdowns on the forces with an explanation for how those forces came to be, you could do worse than the Leadership feat series.

The most elegant solution would be to see if it is possible to get the 10 rides out of these three "PC" grade characters.

  • Fighter 8
    • Leadership score: +5 (renown, fairness, stronghold) + level + cha = 13-16 (depending on charisma modifier).
      • Cohort level 6, 25 level 1, 2 level 2, 1 level 3
  • Fighter 12
    • Leadership score: +5 (renown, fairness, stronghold) + level + cha = 17-20 (depending on charisma modifier)
      • Cohort level 10, 50 l1, 5 l2, 3 l3, 2 l4, 1 l5
  • Wizard 9
    • Leadership score: +5 (renown, fairness, stronghold) + level + cha = 14-17 (depending on charisma modifier)
      • cohort level 7, 30 l1, 3 l2, 1 l3, 1 l4,

So, assuming that these three leaders have high charisma, they can muster around 120 men. A far cry from 600 mounted soldiers. On the other hand, a leadership score of 20 seems to be perfectly appropriate to one ride. If everyone takes "extra followers" each ride now becomes two rides. Necessitating 6 characters with a leadership of 20 (and a naturally occurring 5th level "leader" of each ride). I believe that leader feats also improve your leadership score. (reference)

This gives us a default package of: "Leadership, Improved Cohort, Extra Followers, Might Makes Right" for a bonus of +3+str making our total calculation +8+str+cha+level. Therefore we get the following hierarchy:

  • Fighter 12

    • Leadership score is not important. Only that he has improved cohort

      • Followers
        • A bunch, but these are his "personal guard" Anywhere from 50 to 150.
      • Cohort

        • Level 11 Marshal with all the trimmings. Easily has a 25 leadership.
        • Leadership, Extra followers, Improved cohort, double-charisma from marshal aura
          • 11+8+cha+cha = 25 (presuming a reasonable +3 charisma).
        • Followers
          • 270 Level 1
          • 26 Level 2
        • 14 Level 3
          • 8 Level 4
          • 4 Level 5
          • 4 Level 6
        • His cohort will be marshal 10, and his cohort's cohort will be marshal 9 and his cohort's cohort's cohort will be marshal 8. This provides 1350 base "level 1" creatures. Given that we have 10 rides of 60 men (and 60 horses). Assuming that each light warhorse counts as a follower of equivalent CR, the structure of the answer provides the reason that these folks are so scary in combat.

          1. They're all mounted on sacks of damage and HP.
          2. While they're, individually, warriors, the fact that they are lead by marshals acts as a significant force multiplier with the auras. Therefore, with the damage multipliers from charging on a horse and from the marshal, they should be able to slaughter any equivalent force not so optimized.
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Although this answer is impressive, it ignores that the fiction was established before the game rules existed, and further, it's unlikely that the rules for PC leadership were designed to accord with all existing game setting's pre-existing statements of martial forces. +1 for detail and clever leverage of PC-facing rules, -1 for ignoring the discoursive relationship of those rules and the setting's fiction. – SevenSidedDie Jun 25 '12 at 19:43
Well, the "rules" that existed initially were quoted first. Mounted forces with such and such equipment of men-at-arms lead by a 5th level+ character in AD&D times. Deriving this from first principles in 3.5, and providing with some "realistic simulation" of the mechanics of the world, we can actually satisfy the requirements with the leadership feat, no GM handwaving necessary. – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 25 '12 at 19:45
+1 for the accurate and inspiring answer XD. Some doubts still but perhaps this is the best answer anyone can give me :-) – Vamsi Mizzrym Jun 26 '12 at 17:15
@Vamsi, if you feel that this answer is acceptable, sufficient, and answers the question to your satisfaction, you may also wish to mark it "accepted." – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 26 '12 at 17:37

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