View Full Version : DM / Player Tools Mass Combat Help?

Soft Serve
10-13-2010, 01:10 PM
I want some PC's to be generals.
Kinda can't think on Mass Combat rules yet.

10-14-2010, 02:44 PM
Divide the troops under the players command by unit type.

Determined the amount of troops in each unit. Each of those units has a commander. If you want, you could delegate that the units have hit points equal to the number of troops in the unit.

During battle, the player commands the units to do what they need to do on the battle field.

If I was running this for 4e I would use the monster creation rules and create the units utilizing the role model:

Artillery for archers
Skirmishers for Light Units/Calvary
Soldiers for Heavy Calvary
Lurkers for Spies/Assassins/Snipers
Brutes for Footman
Controllers for command units or units containing wizards, etc.

You can give each unit some specific powers they can do that effect the battle field.

Units have to target other units. Players can split the units, provided they have a commander, halving the hit points. But splitting should also effect the damage output, perhaps giving them the weakened state. When units get bloodied they have a chance of being routed and should be given a 2nd wind to reform. They can also be replenished by healers and reinforcements, two units of the same merging.

You have a lot of options to play with.

Personally, if it was for 4e, I would make the battle a skill challenge rather than actual combat.

Some sites on medieval warfare


10-15-2010, 07:04 PM
Unless you're running a miniatures war game, you don't need mass combat rules. Determine who's going to win, and what the opposition's plan is. Fill in accordingly.

If your PCs get into a fight, grossly outnumbered, determine on what result the average attacker needs to hit each PC. Then, assume each attacker doesn't roll, but gets a number. Out of 20 attacks, the PC gets hit once for each roll result that would hit his AC.

Example: Joe Warrior has an AC 15. He gets attacked by a horde whose members have an average attack bonus of 5. So, the average member would need a 10 or higher to hit. Results 10 through 20 are 11 results out of 20...so out of 20 attacks, 11 of them hit.

So the last question is how many attacks per round does the PC face (since every 20 attacks will result in 11 hits).

10-21-2010, 12:01 PM
Generally if the PCs are involved in a battle, the battle goes the direction of the PC encounters. I'll run 2-3 combats between each PC and a similarly equipped NPC hero. If they do well, the units around them do well.

If the PCs are generals it goes the same way. The general get's jumped by opposing heroes, if he wins, his army wins. If he is badly wounded, the army is mauled.

And to answer your question GURPS has a good mass combat resolution system that does not require writing up every soldier. Or was it Hero, one of the two.

11-02-2010, 11:48 PM
I want some PC's to be generals.
Kinda can't think on Mass Combat rules yet.
You may also find the Battlesystem: Miniatures Rules (http://www.amazon.com/Battlesystem-Miniatures-Advanced-Dungeons-Dragons/dp/088038770X) from AD&D helpful. One of the best D&D games I was ever lucky enough to participate in was a city invasion lead by the party of adventurers my character was in and their army. The DM used some of the Battlesystem rules, laid our terrain and props on his garage floor, and the havoc commenced.

One of the greatest things I remember about the combat was that the monster leaders had a command radius to keep other monsters under their control; the DM explained it as "Anything within 1 round's worth of movement, because when the monsters know they're that close to getting beat down by their leader, they stay in line and do what they're told."

Our players lead small groups of mercenaries in the fray also, generals in the battle just like you're describing you want your player's characters to be. (I still feel badly for the group of archers I was leading that were destroyed by flaming pitch from a catapult... But I got my revenge and cut the rope to reset the catapult with a critical hit from extreme long range with my trusty comp. longbow. Ahhh, those were the days!)

(I registered on this site specifically to share this answer and thank you for reminding me of that awesome event. THANKS!)


11-03-2010, 02:26 AM
I have both versions of that beast. I even have a rule in the Second edition of it. (Mounted Infantry) I used the rules a couple of times with different groups. I found them a bit awkward in play. It is not the fastest or cleanest system. It works, and is the miniature system for mass combat that is the most compatible with D&D. (At least AD&D) but it is clunky and slow in practice in my observation.

Some adaption of the stats and the like would be necessary for D&D 3.x/Pathfinder. The D&D miniature system published is not mass combat. It is one for one scrimmish with simplified rules.

11-03-2010, 08:40 AM
Yeah, even just running it in our 2E game, the Dm did throw out a lot of what the book called for, he'd said. It made for a pretty memorable game for us. ^^

11-04-2010, 12:47 PM
Sorry Soft. Can't really give you a reply until I know exactly how involved you want to get on this. One thing I can suggest is chatting with Richard Little, the Inceptum Terminus Lead Developer. I got with him when he was looking for info on unit formations, movement, and things like that.

Soft Serve
11-11-2010, 02:02 AM
Actually cancelled the campaign last week. What I went with was some basic Infantry, Bigger Infantry, Anti-Whatever Infantry, some artillery type units, leadership units, and rules for fortification, momentum and a few other things. It all panned out really well, it all ran really well with the 4 of us, and worked for the temporary break from Dungeon Crawls and town murder.

Town murder actually was never in MY plans. PC's had different ideas. Also all the work only took me about 3 hours spread over 5 days.

11-15-2010, 02:13 AM
Yeah, PCs tend to ruin the best plans of the DM. ;)

Tony Misfeldt
05-28-2016, 12:47 PM
Here's a system that I've come up with. It was inspired by the WWII board game "Axis & Allies". Get yourself some poker chips. The different colours of poker chips represent different numbers of troops. White = 10, Blue = 20, Red = 50, and Yellow/Green = 100. Place the figurine of each soldier onto a poker chip of the desired colour, and that figurine now represents that number of troops. Treat that one soldier as a very powerful individual fighter, with hit points equal to the soldier's x the colour of the poker chip (so a soldier with 10 HP on a green or yellow chip will = 1000 HP). Treat the unit's attacks as a single massive attack. When calculating damage, it's the dice of the unit's weapon multiplied by one half of the unit's number (in the above example, all of the soldiers are armed with longswords and do 1d8 x 50). This represents the chaos of warfare (half of the unit aren't within reach of their opponents, missed their mark, had their attacks parried or blocked with shields, etc).

So for example, let's say your party consists of a wizard, a paladin with a war mount, a barbarian, a swashbuckling rogue, and a cleric of the god of war. They are leading a group of 500 soldiers to defend a walled town/small city from a horde of rampaging orcs. The wizard takes control of the town's archers. The paladin takes control of the town's cavalry. The barbarian and the rogue take control of the town's light infantry. And the cleric takes control of the town's heavy infantry. Give each player a figurine to represent the soldiers in question and a green/yellow poker chip to place them on. The players control their given troops, rolling and keeping track of attacks and damage, etc. Meanwhile you place your orc figurines onto other green/yellow poker chips, keeping enough set aside to represent the individual orcs battling the PCs. Then play out the battle as though it were a boss fight.

Of course you also have the option of giving the players more figurines and red, blue, or white poker chips, but that could make the whole battle more complicated than it needs to be.

Soft Serve
05-30-2016, 03:20 PM
That's a pretty solid way to go about it. Probably what I'll do if I ever run a game with a physical map again. I'd have to buy poker chips though...

06-08-2016, 01:10 AM
I would use cheetoos instead of chips. They are much more flavorful.

Tony Misfeldt
06-08-2016, 02:38 AM
I think your miniatures would probably fall off of your Cheetoes.

06-09-2016, 09:31 AM
Hmmm, you gotta point there.

Tony Misfeldt
06-11-2016, 04:59 PM
Incidentally, a good place to buy Poker Chips is your local dollar store. Depending on their supplier, you can get a pack of 3 to 4 colours, with 13 to 20 chips of each colour. Generally, if you only get 3 colours you get about 40 white, 20 red, 20 blue. If you get 4 colours, then you'll get 13 to 20 each of white, blue, red and either green or yellow.

On a related note, a great place to find figurines for mass combat is actually Toys R Us. You can get buckets of either knights, pirates, or fantasy heroes for about $13 a bucket. The knights are divided between black and gray figurines. They also come with a functioning cannon and catapult (these require small rubber bands to be fired) and a battering ram. The pirates figurines are divided between the pirates who are made of black plastic, and undead skeletons made of white plastic. The fantasy heroes have barbarians, wizards, orcs, elves, etc. They're a little larger than Reaper's figurines, but as representatives of faceless, nameless, expendable soldiers they're pretty good.

If you want the figurines to be nicely painted like your character figurines, I highly suggest that you cut them free from their stands and then glue them onto the bases for figurines purchased from gaming stores. There's two reasons for this. One, the plastic figurines are so light that they'll be blown right over by the aerosol primer/sealant. The new base makes them more bottom heavy and able to stand up to the aerosol spray. Second, spray primer and/or sealant warps the plastic that these figurines are made from. If not glued to a new base, you'll have a heck of a time getting them to stand after you've sprayed them.

Soft Serve
06-20-2016, 01:11 AM
That's an awesome idea, I'm going to look into that. Both of those stores are close-by.