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Author Topic: Simple and Entertaining Mass Combat Systems for Fantasy RPGs  (Read 1589 times)

ligedog

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So I'm looking for a system that is roughly as simple as War Machine from the D&D companion rules but is a little more intersting and dynamic in play.  Maybe a little troop movement but nothing as indepth as a real miniatures war game.  Any good candidates?
 

Omega

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Simple and Entertaining Mass Combat Systems for Fantasy RPGs
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2017, 01:31:00 am »
Battlesystem or the trimmed down rules from Birthright? I know theres one or two others.

David Johansen

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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2017, 02:14:37 am »
GURPS Mass Combat is pretty direct.  Total up troop strengths, modify for exceptional advantages like fliers and warmachines, compare odds, roll Strategy skill contest, apply casualties, repeat.
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Voros

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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 02:54:52 am »
Quote from: Omega;974497
Battlesystem or the trimmed down rules from Birthright? I know theres one or two others.

I've heard good things about Douglas Niles' 2e rewrite of Battlesystem and the skirmish supplement.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 02:58:04 am by Voros »

finarvyn

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Simple and Entertaining Mass Combat Systems for Fantasy RPGs
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2017, 09:08:32 am »
My go-to rules for mass combat is TSR's "Chainmail."  I usually get rid of most of the details and focus on the one mass-combat chart which simply has you match up the unit types and then roll bunches of d6's. Chainmail also has some options for fantasy combat (spells, orcs, that kind of thing).

EDIT: Added a link. Looks like it's a $5 PDF. :D

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/17010/Chainmail-Rules-for-Medieval-Miniatures-0e?it=1
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 09:10:59 am by finarvyn »
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saskganesh

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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2017, 09:12:26 am »
I've used tweaked War Machine on tactical hex maps, repurposing SPI's Medieval Battles Quad, using both battlefields and counters.

War Machine is a strategic engine, so scale is off, so I futzed around a bit with casualty ratios to make to make it fit better for unit vs unit combat. I did borrow some things from FGU's Bushido, but I don't recall the details, I think it may have been casualty breakdown ratios.

The main thing was to allow reasonable maneuver and to localize areas of spell effects. It worked OK.

Azraele

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Simple and Entertaining Mass Combat Systems for Fantasy RPGs
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 09:15:29 am »
I designed a war combat system for fifth edition based on the winner of the thought eater contest. It doesn't have troop movement (its content with the typical abstractions of D&D combat) but overall I was very satisfied with the result. You can check it out right here and here's an example of a an army stat block, with art.

I also put up a somewhat easier to reference blog post about it, which has my design notes.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2017, 09:40:11 am by Azraele »
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estar

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Simple and Entertaining Mass Combat Systems for Fantasy RPGs
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 11:52:49 am »
Quote from: David Johansen;974502
GURPS Mass Combat is pretty direct.  Total up troop strengths, modify for exceptional advantages like fliers and warmachines, compare odds, roll Strategy skill contest, apply casualties, repeat.

For paper only resolution I concur that GURPS Mass Combat is the way to go.

For something that uses figures or tokens go with 1st edition Battlesystem. You can use it with the ascending AC of later editions by following the formula from this blog post of mine.

Adapting Ascending AC to Battle System

The relevant part

Quote
Normally it works like this.

2d6+ THACO-AC + modifiers.

I played around with the numbers and found this works

2d6+Ascending AC-To Hit Bonus+modifiers.

The result from using Swords & Wizardry with Ascending AC and a to hit bonus for characters.

One Thousand Four Hundred and Fifty Orcs Slain

Reflections on a lot of Dead

The thing to remember is that 1e Battlesystem is a math hack that allow any AD&D 1e character or monster to be used in mass combat. As it turned out it works with just about anything that uses a d20 for attack versus a target number.

Edgewise

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« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 12:16:51 pm »
I believe that there are mass combat rules out there for ACKS (called ACKS Domains at War) and Red Tide (called An Echo, Resounding: A Sourcebook for Lordship and War).  I can't vouch for either one, but they exist, and both come from systems with justifiably good reputations.
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Dumarest

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« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 01:30:38 pm »
You should ask Black Vulmea about how Flashing Blades does it; he probably could tell you better. It allows the PCs to play a role as well.

Bren

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Simple and Entertaining Mass Combat Systems for Fantasy RPGs
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2017, 02:19:43 pm »
Quote from: Dumarest;974606
You should ask Black Vulmea about how Flashing Blades does it; he probably could tell you better. It allows the PCs to play a role as well.
It works well where what happens to and with the PCs is more important than determining through play what happens in a campaign of battles and where battles are between fairly equivalent sides.

You count the number of companies on each side with modifiers for troop types
Quote
  • All companies of Musketeers count double
  • All companies of Knights count double (see section 5.62)
  • In a Battle, all Cavalry troops count double
  • In a Siege or Under Siege, all Artillery companies count double
  • In an Attack, all Grenadier companies count double

That total is your army strength. Each side rolls 2d6 and adds that to their army strength. There are a few more modifiers for brilliant maneuvers (if any) and the rank of the commanding officer.
Quote
Now the Army Strengths for the encounter are compared, and the
lesser value is subtracted from the greater. This is the number of companies
lost by the losing army (the lesser). If the Strengths are equal,
both sides lose one company. This process is repeated for each of the
three encounters that make up the Campaign, The side with the least
losses at the end wins the Campaign.
If the army strengths are unequal battles are a foregone conclusion. Which may, or may not be what one wants in a battle system.
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Azraele

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Simple and Entertaining Mass Combat Systems for Fantasy RPGs
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2017, 02:31:26 pm »
Quote from: Edgewise;974594
I believe that there are mass combat rules out there for ACKS (called ACKS Domains at War) and Red Tide (called An Echo, Resounding: A Sourcebook for Lordship and War).  I can't vouch for either one, but they exist, and both come from systems with justifiably good reputations.

I can personally vouch for the ACKs mass combat system. It's truly brilliant in that it mathematically weds round-by-round combat with a larger battle by doing all the power-math behind the curtains. What it leaves you and your players with is a swiftly-intuited system for playing out mass battles as heroes, generals, victims, anything.
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Gronan of Simmerya

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« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2017, 02:32:06 pm »
Unfortunately none of those systems seem to include TACTICS.  CHAINMAIL should be more than just line up troops and grind 'em together.  Terrain and maneuver is what wind battles, not dice rolling.
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Azraele

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« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2017, 02:37:05 pm »
Quote from: Gronan of Simmerya;974619
Unfortunately none of those systems seem to include TACTICS.  CHAINMAIL should be more than just line up troops and grind 'em together.  Terrain and maneuver is what wind battles, not dice rolling.

Hey Gronan, have you ever given though to using Warmaster to resolve battles in-game? I found a copy at a second hand store and I've been really impressed that it emphasizes maneuver and positioning over stat blocks.
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WillInNewHaven

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Simple and Entertaining Mass Combat Systems for Fantasy RPGs
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2017, 02:40:12 pm »
Quote from: Gronan of Simmerya;974619
Unfortunately none of those systems seem to include TACTICS.  CHAINMAIL should be more than just line up troops and grind 'em together.  Terrain and maneuver is what win battles, not dice rolling.

Terrain, maneuver and morale. You (generally) break armies, you don't kill them, especially in the days before firearms. I don't think the OP wants something from wargaming but others interested in this subject might want to look at edition six of War Games Research Group's ancient and medieval wargame rules. Of course, they have to be modified. Adding in magic gives one many opportunities to break the opponent's troops.