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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mass Combat as an Individual Mini-Game-

commented on the previous post by reminding me of 1st edition Stormbringer's section [3.10] for mass combat ([3.11] Naval combat is worth a read, too), which reduces the recommended method down to a POW v. POW (Wis v. Wis or PSI v. PSI) conflict. Successfully beating the meta-opposition of the GM's roll means that the PC has survived unharmed, has used her weapon/defence skills and is eligible to improve.

Failing the roll indicates that the character is subject to 2d10 points of damage with only her armour to reduce the effects. If the character has only sustained a Minor Wound (less than half of her total) she is similarly eligible to improver her fighting skills. Those suffering a Major Wound are in too much pain to gain the benefit.

Naval warfare is more or less as above, but is sink or swim as regards the fate of each ship in the combat.



  1. The other day, I hauled out GURPS Compendium II and set about creating a couple of opposing forces for use in that game's mass combat rules. Those, too, abstract combat between groups into opposed rolls of, say, Tactics vs. Tactics skills, or Battle vs. Battle skills, etc., with modifiers provided by circumstances, quality of troops, number of combatants and so on. Margins of success are checked on a chart and casualties applied.

    It's very much its own mini-game too, and although it's not as abstracted as the system you describe above, it is very similar -- and it was fun, too.

    By the way -- my chosen scenario involved June Jutt and the Smacktarts, an 11-girl cyberpunk mercenary team, assaulting a mansion controlled by a Mexican narco gang called Los Cabrones. The girls won.

  2. It's too abstract for me, I would prefer the player to have at least make one meaningful decision towards the process, to be involved rather than just the passive recipient of a rolled outcome.

    Currently I'm favouring a variant of the Legend of the 5 Rings rules - have a commander decide how heavily she engages, which ties in to rewards. Doubles rolled indicate a special random occurance, winner of round gains some advantage.

  3. I looked at the Striker rules last night. Depending on how badly a unit fails a morale check, it could be hitting the dirt, running for cover, or routing completely. Leader-types can rally any type of troop that is within a certain distance and get them back in the game. NCO's can only rally soldiers that normally serve under them.

    Something like this would work well in situations were each of 4 or 5 players has their own platoons and NCO's. I'd probably group each squad together for movement/sequence purposes. (Striker still treats them as individuals in spite of this convenience.)

    As tech level increases, you will have soldiers acting with more autonomy-- it doesn't make sense to have them close together when uber-guns become common. This is where Striker peeters out, I guess. Battlesuit by Steve Jackson does pretty well... but the panic results are crazy random-- there's even a chance that your suit-dude will start shooting at his pals...!

    For larger battles, there was Book 4: Mercenary... which (similarly to the GURPS Mass Combat above) calculated out casualties by %. But the awesome thing about both Striker and Mercenary is the ability of it to handle tech levels from WWI on up... and have these varying techs fight each other. Neat system.

    The new Mass Combat system for GURPS 4e has various generic troops that can have various options/abilities layered onto them. I haven't looked at that one closely, yet, but I have it.

  4. @Dr Rotwang!: Is that Compendium II the 3rd edition stuff?
    --Sounds like a fun game. :) Thanks.

    @Sean: "It's too abstract for me, I would prefer the player to have at least make one meaningful decision towards the process, to be involved rather than just the passive recipient of a rolled outcome." -- I agree with you, and I'm going there with Vanguard. :D

    @Jeffro: Thanks. Yeah, that's how I'm doing Vanguard (not the crazy firing part, though). I've thumbed through GURPS Mass Combat, but it feels kinda' flat to me.

  5. Unless you're prepared to do a whole mini-game on something like this, you're better off handling it in two scales.

    First, small-scale rules for when it's just one ship against another, or twenty orcs against twenty humans, or someone is firing a ballista at a giant.

    Second, if you really need something that works at a larger scale, you need to go abstract or you're going to get buried in a mass of detail that at best slows down the game and at worst is impenetrable.

    In Adventures Dark and Deep I put together a pretty abstract system for ship combat that works like a charm. There's still meaningful decision making and details like the type of ship your own do matter, but it doesn't take three hours to resolve, pouring through rules that only get trotted out once or twice in a regular campaign.