Content of the article: "Mass Combat System – C&C Appreciated"
I've recently been on the lookout for a mass combat system for a pseudo- Iron Age British campaign, but nothing I found was really hitting the spot…
So naturally I went and wrote my own, which you can find here.
The key elements of this system are as follows:
- Using dice as a measure of both a unit's health and it's combat ability. When a unit is defeated, it's die "degrades" into the next tier down (so d10 to d8, d8 to d6, etc.). Ranged weapons work in a similar way (but degrading here represents running out of ammunition, and occurs on a 1).
- A strong emphasis on the importance of morale, as a kind of all purpose resource encompassing motivation, tiredness, fear, inspiration, etc. This is especially fitting for the type of campaign I'm running, where the forces are mostly undisciplined rabble, who should definitely be fleeing in preference to fighting to the death.
- Introducing player influence through the "Champion Intervention" mechanic. This is supposed to encompass all the ways that players can step in and shape events – and I've prepared a lot of examples to fire their imagination and give them some interesting tactical decisions.
I think running this system on the table would probably involve too much book-keeping, but on Roll20 the 3 little bubbles let you track the three key stats each unit has, as you can see below:
Red is DIE (health, combat)
Green is RAN (ranged weapons)
Blue is MOR (morale)
The shading indicates allegiance (in this case, light blue units are Atreii, the clan of my players).
The nameplate indicates the unit name and movement speed is (in brackets for convenience).
I've run this system myself (without Champion interventions) once, in a battle involving 23 units. It took about 45 minutes – and I'd expect that to double or treble with Champion Interventions, to maybe 1:30-2:30 hours.
In any case, I'd really appreciate any feedback or comments on the rules (or, better yet, playtests), as I'm preparing to unleash them on my players for the first time next Monday. Thanks in advance!
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