Monday, April 2, 2012

Abstract Mass Combat Rules, Take Two

A little over a week ago, I announced that I had a playtest version of a set of abstract mass combat rules for the classic flavor of our favorite fantasy rpg and of course all its related clones and coat-tail riders. Thanks to some great feedback and playtesting (now waist deep in a full-blown FLAILSNAILS tie-in war), I have nailed down version 0.2 and I am feeling damn good about it.

I think the rules deliver a quick way to resolve battles at all scales without tearing yourself away from the central play group experience of the traditional rpg while allowing you some meaningful tactical choices to make it more interesting and challenging than crunching math and roll a single die.

Some of the chrome added to this version:
1. Stratagems. Each commanding officer of a force can attempt once a week to employ a pre-battle tactical “trick” based on the particular mix of arms in their host. Currently this version supports stratagems for ambushes, flank marches, deceptive deployments, night/day surprise attacks, field fortifications, and treachery. I expect to add several more after the current round is completed.

2. Tactical postures at the battle. Tightened up the section on battle resolution proper with a matrix that compares the choice of postures or tactics (again dependent on the particular mix of your forces). Again I feel good about this as it's fairly simple and straightforward, but gives you a choice that can make or break a battle.

3. Player character battle results. I've finished a draft version of a mini-game that ties in dangers and rewards for PCs dependent on what stance they take into the battle (foolhardy, normal, or craven) matched to the results of the battle (a bloodbath on your side for instance corresponding to a more dangerous end result). PCs face a range of playable dangers from combat with the other sides champions (or rank and file) to unusual dilemmas (like what do you do when the unit you are embeded in routes off the field).

There's more, but I wanted to give readers a taste of how the collective brain trust is lighting a fire under my proverbial rear to make this a fun and useful (and likely free) “product”.

If you are interested in getting a playtest copy—and promise to actually give feedback and/or playtest this sucka—drop me a line at kutalik at the gmail dot com. (Those of you in the campaign will be getting updates in the field dispatches.)  


  1. Have you checked out Pendragon's Book of Battle? If not, read it for inspiration. I've used those rules in countless mass battles and found them extremely applicable to a couple of player characters in or leading a squad.

  2. Yes, I rather like the Pendragon rules as they do a good job of integrating them with the feel and scope of the game rather than as an awkward add-on. But that said these are different (and should produce a feel that is more "D&D-like").

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  4. Sent you an e-mail about checking out a copy of your rules, I think maybe your spam filter picked it up. Any chance I could still sneak a peak? nich olas longshanks at yahoo dot com?

  5. not harassing you, just checking I haven't missed the results of turn 1...

  6. You may want to check out my D&D mass combat rules. I just posted them here: