Swarm Rules


Swarms are a way of representing a group of enemies acting in a single, organised manner. Apart from being a dangerous threat, it also adds a greater scale and intensity to combats whilst keeping combat streamlined.

Base Mechanics of a Swarms


  • All Swarms possess two elements: the Overseer, and the Underlings. The Overseer is the leader of the Swarm, and possesses the Overseer trait. The Underlings, however, are the basic minions that make up the Swarm's ranks.
  • The Overseer is a single powerful Shadow of Director rank or higher. The Swarm acts on the Overseer's initiative. The Overseer directs the Swarm's actions through Commands. Furthermore, whilst in formation, the Overseer is granted a degree of protection from enemy attack.
  • The Underlings are a number of Shadows of Trouper rank. All Underlings possess the exact same profile with the exact same attacks. Underlings must remain 'in rank' with the Swarm by remaining within 10m of the Overseer and are not separated by some physical barrier. If an Underling moves out of rank, it is no longer part of the Swarm, but must spend all its time attempting to move back into rank.
  • Whenever the Overseer makes a Command, all of the Underlings are treated as though they'd made that action simultaneously, thus ensuring the unit acts in a coherent single entity.

Unit Strength

  • All Swarms possess a Unit Strength (US), which is equal to the number of Underlings it contains. US dictates the strength of Swarm attack commands, modifiers to certain tests and skills and plays a role in the Swarm's psychology. US depletes as the Swarm loses Underlings.
  • Many options add a "Unit Strength Modifier" (USM) to a test either as a bonus or a penalty. In these situations, the USM is equal to US*5, so a Swarm with US10 has a USM of 50 (it increases or reduces some tests by 50).

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Swarms in Combat

Attacking Swarms

  • When attacking a Swarm, a character applies bonuses and penalties as though they were attacking the most favourable target in the Swarm.
    • For example, if the nearest member of the Swarm is 5m away but the farthest is 15m, and you get short range bonuses at +10, then you count as targeting the closest member and so get that bonus.
  • On attacking a Swarm, any hits may be allocated against the Underlings as normal, although they may not attack the Overseer or any special Underlings unless there are no normal Underlings left. So long as you can attack one Underling, all Underlings of the Swarm are considered to be valid targets even if, normally, you could not reach them, such as due to them being out of melee range.
  • However, if the character rolled doubles on their roll (eg. A 22 or 33), then they may choose to allocate attacks however they wish, including against the Overseer.
  • Alternatively, characters may target the Overseer or any special Underlings by using the Called Shot action. This suffers USM as a penalty (which doesn't stack with the usual Called Shot penalty; take whichever is higher), but on a hit allows you to choose which target you strike and also applies the usual benefit of a called shot.

Damaging Swarms

  • Underlings in a Swarm do not take damage as normal. Instead, whenever they take a hit that deals damage in excess of any damage reduction (eg. AP, TB etc), then they instantly die. All attacks on Underlings in a Swarm count as hitting the body.
  • Overseers, of course, possess their usual complement of wounds and suffers damage in the usual manner.
  • Swarms count as being in cover so long as a majority of the Underlings are in cover. If the Overseer is in cover, then the Overseer counts as being in cover even if the majority of the Underlings are not.
  • Some special weapon types are better at dealing with Swarms than others:
    • Attacks with the Spray Quality, if they kill an underling, kill an extra Underling per 10m of range of the weapon. If the weapon furies, then it makes it per 5m instead.
    • Attacks with the Blast Quality, if they kill an Underling, kill 2 extra Underlings. If the weapon furies, then it kills an extra number of Underlings equal to X, to a minimum of 2.
    • Attacks with the Devastating Quality, if they kill an Underling, kill extra Underlings equal to the Devastating Quality.

Attacking with Swarms

  • When Swarms attack, they are able to spread their attacks amongst any targets within range and line of sight. However, because of how dangerous massed fire can be, Underlings may not allocate more than PB number of attacks to a single target at once, unless they have allocated PB attacks to all possible targets. This limit can be waived if the target is deemed particularly pressing or threatening as per the GM's arbitration.
  • When making attacks, Underlings only roll damage once and apply that result to all hits. Furthermore, when rolling to hit, only roll a number of locations as the most hits done to a single target; all attacks then follow the same pattern (i.e if you hit 3 enemies with 3 hits each, roll 3 hit locations and use those 3 for all 3 targets' hits)
  • Underlings otherwise only attack when given Commands by the Overseer.
  • If a Swarm Attack would have multiple conflicting bonuses or penalties for an attack, for example shooting between two targets, one of whom is farther away, always take the lowest bonus or the harshest penalty.
  • Evading Swarm attacks works just like evading a Burst or Flurry attack, with each DoS negating another hit.

Fear, Pinning and Break tests

  • Whenever a Swarm is in a situation that it must make a Fear or Pinning, then the Overseer makes a Willpower test; on a success, the Swarm stands firm.
    • If the Overseer fails a Fear test, however, the Swarm dissolves; all Underlings instantly flee as though they'd rolled an 81-100 on the Shock Table, whilst the Overseer rolls fear as normal.
    • If the Overseer fails a Pinning test, then the Swarm will fall back or move to cover as normal, may only benefit from Half Action or Reaction Commands and may not advance toward an enemy until the Overseer overcomes Pinning.
  • Break tests are Swarm-unique tests that trigger if the Swarm takes more US damage before its turn than its WP Bonus. The Overseer makes a +20 Command test with a -5 penalty per US lost before its turn. If the Overseer fails, then the Swarm collapses, with the Underlings fleeing as though they had rolled an 81-100 on the Shock Table; the Overseer is unaffected.
    • Overseers who are not currently part of a Swarm may make a Command-20 test to try to force some unattached Underlings back into formation. On a success, the Overseer coerces a number of Underlings equal to their FB, plus 1 per DoS, into creating a new Swarm around themselves.

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Swarm Commands

  • Swarm Commands are issued on the Overseer's turn. Using a Command requires the Overseer to use an action, eg. Half or full. Once activated, the Swarm follows the Command immediately. Unless explicitly stated, activating Commands do not require tests from the Overseer.
  • Swarms only act through Commands. Like normal units, they possess a single Full Action (or two Half Actions) per turn and a single Reaction per round. Swarms can only make Reactions due to a Command from their Overseer.
  • Commands are divided into Generic, Special and Passive Commands.
    • Generic Commands are Commands that any Overseer may use.
    • Special Commands are rare, and may only be gained by some Overseers, often as an Arcana bonus.
    • Passive Commands are a subset of Special Commands that are like traits in that they passively modify a Swarm and do not need to be activated. Passive Commands are tied to Underlings, not to Overseers.
    • Thus your typical Swarm will have one Passive, derived from Underlings, and one Special, derived from Overseer.
Action Name Subname Action Cost Action Type Effect
Move - Half Movement Each member of the Swarm moves up to their Half Move distance.
Tactical Advance - Full Concentration, Movement Each member of the Swarm moves up to their Full Move distance. If the Swarm was in cover before this movement, and counts as being in cover after it is done, then they count as still having the previous cover's protection during the move itself, even though they briefly leave cover for a time.
Run - Full Movement Each member of the Swarm moves up to their Run distance.
Disengage - Full Movement Each member of the Swarm moves up to their Half Move distance. Opponents engaged in melee with the Swarm may not make opportunity attacks as it retreats.

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