Friday, November 13, 2009

Large Skirmish Level Battles - Simple but effective rules

One rule set I use regularly, that I promised to showcase is rules for handling larger combats. This particular system is useful for combats of a couple hundred individuals or less (maybe 40 to 200) and not for larger battles where logistics and the like take on a larger role.

This is for battles too big to resolve with individual level combat, but small enough that a lone hero can be a major tipping point.

The basic idea is that the battle will break down round by round, according to the average statistical break down, modified by a d20 roll.

For each group you will work out the numbers in a similar manner. 40 swordsmen attack, 7 will hit, of those that hit 3 will just injure and 4 will be downed. Then you modify by a d20 roll x 10%. So in the following example, for round 1 I would work out the math then roll a d20, if I rolled an 8, I would only be 80% effective in hits (rounding as normal) so I would hit 6 times and go from there.

If I rolled a natural 20 I would be 200% as effective and hit 14 individuals, injure 6 and down 4.

Individuals that are injured twice, shift to downed. Each round, take 10% of your total number of downed individuals (round up) and shift them to dead (in case there is magical healing available).

This allows you to work out fairly large battles fairly quickly. With any system with static defense (like Armour Class) use that to determine % of hits (assuming the attack rolls are a straight break down of 1-20, IE if there are 40 swordsmen then they roll 2 of each result). If there is a dynamic defensive roll, assume that all defenders are rolling 10 (it evens out in large numbers)


Morale becomes incredibly important in large battles and should usually be rolled every round.

The benefits of a system like this:

1.) It allows for a transition of the combat concepts players are familiar with. Things such as blessing your troops for that extra +1 become meaningful, without being unreasonably powerful or without adding a new set of mechanics to work with "higher abstraction" combat.

2.) It can be worked out quickly, while still maintaining that element of random chance. After all, rolling dice is fun..just not several thousand dice a round.

The downsides:

1.) It gets too unwieldy to scale up to "army level" combat

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