Mass Combats in Next?

Does anyone else think D&D has been missing any kind of mass combat rules, and if so would you like to see them implemented in 5E? Players eventually raise armies what with how ridiculously rich they get, and doing large combats, even a 100 soldier war, would be ridiculous to play out with the regular system.

I'm currently running a  heavily modified low fantasy version of 3.5, and some large scale battles are on the horizon. I poked around online for some mass combat systems, but haven't really found anything useful so far, so I thought up some rules on the fly. It focuses on squad/groupings. These might be too fiddley for core mechanics, but let me know if you have any input. I would really like to see mass combat acknowledged in the next edition!


- Squads/units can be any amount of men, but should all be roughly same level, class, and weapon type (except for commander)


- Initiative is -1 for every 10 men in a squad.


- Squad speed is 25 feet (double for cavalry)


- Squads move like regular units, except that they share spaces with other squads they are fighting.


- Map size varies depending on scale of battle, but 25 ft hexes (or squares) is default


- Every soldier's hit points are pooled into the squad's total


- When two squads engage in melee, they roll opposed attack rolls, modified by advantages, numbers, skill level, commander charisma rating, etc.


- The winner rolls 1d6 (if squad is using short swords, for example) for each soldier to a maximum of 9. If there are 10 soldiers, then he multiplies 5d6 by 2. If there are 20, he multiplies 5d6 by 4, etc. For odd numbers simply add an extra d6


- Commander may roll his own damage in addition


- The loser does the same, but his damage is reduced by 75%, 50%, or 25% depending on how much he lost by. If he lost by 5 then 75%, if 10 then 50%, if 15+ then 25%


- If average hit points are 5, then for every 10 hp the squad loses, someone dies, until squad reaches 50% hp, after which someone dies for every 5 hp lost, until squad reaches 25%, at which point someone dies for every 3 hp lost.


- Squad takes a morale check at 50% and 25% hp to avoid routing


- Morale check is 1d20+(1 for every 5 units they are outnumbered) against 10+commander's charisma


- If the squad hp are ever down to half of the commander's hp, he is the only one left and is bloodied.


- Archers work same way except ranged


- If firing into a melee, their damage is divided between their own troops and the enemy


- If firing while their own units are adjacent an enemy, their own troops take a quarter of the damage


- Ranged attacks only do half damage if squad all have shields



Advantages/Disadvantages


Higher ground +5


Polearms vs cavalry +10


Cavalry vs regular infantry +10


Melee vs archers +15


Surprised -10


Outnumbering (+2 for every 10 units extra)


Adjacent friendly squad +5


Wounded (-5 at 75% health, -10 at 50%, and -15 at 25%)


Pincered -10

In the old boxed set edition (iirc. the companion set rules) a mass comba system was introduced ('War Machine',  based on each army having a Battle Rating, representing its fighting capabilities). It was best used for fairly large scale battles (perhaps a hundred or more combatants on each side), and although it has its shortcomings it worked faily well (e.g. when PCs had acquired dominions and raised their own armies, fighting off the arrmy of the baron next door or a horde of rampaging frost giants).
For smaller scale skirmishes another system could be used, called 'Battlesystem' (more like a miniature tabletop battle).


It might be worth looking at one of those systems for inspiration (especially 'War Machine').
Despite its early roots, D&D really isn't a war game. Personally I feel that for larger scale battles using swarm monstr design for enemy units works fine.

DDN ssem to want to represent every last combatant individualy, which just bogs things down.

Diablo 3 actaully handles large scale battle really well. Your character had specific missions to accomplish in the midst of a much larger conflict. That approach can be taken with almost any system.
See I'm down for the kind of game style kung fu ferret is talking about.  Where you get missions and you need to carry out specific jobs with your characters.  Kinda like playing the special ops team that accomplishes specific goals and forwards the strategic needs of the army you are working with.

However

In addition to that I would love to have a system where you can also play out the large scale battles.  With the characters representing the comnders as it were.  A lot of the people on my tables are war gamers, and we would all enjoy being able to actually play out the big key battles of the campaign.  Actually applying the randomization of the battle to see how it goes down to change the plot of the game.  Rather than having me just cinematic the giant battle with no mind to it going any way other than how I said it would.
In addition to that I would love to have a system where you can also play out the large scale battles.  With the characters representing the comnders as it were.  A lot of the people on my tables are war gamers, and we would all enjoy being able to actually play out the big key battles of the campaign.  Actually applying the randomization of the battle to see how it goes down to change the plot of the game.  Rather than having me just cinematic the giant battle with no mind to it going any way other than how I said it would.



The old, excellent module 'Red Arrow, Black Shield' (you can probably find it on the net as a pdf-file) features an added element of wargame. The 'Kown World' is invaded by a horde from the west (not 'the horde from the east' this time ) and the players command the defending armies (counters on the map), while the DM handles the attackers.
While the war is raging the PCs do missions and quests, or calling in old debts or visiting kingdomes saved in earlier adventures etc., in order to gain allies (various neutral countries), i.e. more armies.
The combination of strategic warfare and standard quests etc. worked very well.
One way I use Skill Challenges in 4e is to roleplay larger battles so that I don't need to do anything on a grid.  It works out really well.  Each player has to decide how he or she is going to act in the battle, and then they roll their check.  After all of the players have gone, depending on success/failures, I narrate the scene.  In smaller conflicts, they go once around or twice around.  In larger conflicts, they go 3 times around or more.  When PCs fail, I make them roll damage depending on how formidable the foes are.   They can also choose to use other abilities or powers, which grant them auto success (unless they roll a 1).

 

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I know some type of swarm rules for dndn are coming. I wonder if they could help w/ the mass combat concept. I do hope to see this type of thing included in a module.
I like some of the OP's system. My only worry is it ending up being too slow at the table. I also wonder if rounds are six seconds or not. It might make a war be oddly short timewise ingame. So I like the idea.
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If Next D&D has got wargame rule system I imagine the stats of regimens or squads will be like monster with subtype swarn. All hitpoints would be fused like one creature.

I think we could see a future D&D RTS videogame. I like the idea of mixture of action-RPG with RTS.... and economic strategy. The settin of Birthright would be perfect to try it.

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I know some type of swarm rules for dndn are coming. I wonder if they could help w/ the mass combat concept. I do hope to see this type of thing included in a module. I like some of the OP's system. My only worry is it ending up being too slow at the table. I also wonder if rounds are six seconds or not. It might make a war be oddly short timewise ingame. So I like the idea.



Hahaha, that's true. It would be quite odd for a war to be over in under a minute. Even in regular D&D skirmishes I find 6 seconds to be a bit short, opting instead for 10 seconds. You could always just tell your players the battle rages for an hour or so. If you say it, it exists LOL. I agree that RPG combat tends to slow things down, which is why I set the damage fairly high and make NPCs cowardly unless they really think they'll win. I like my combats to be brutal and over quickly, so I limit individual hit points to around 20. I also wouldn't use minis, even for if we were playing out a large scale battle. Drawing relative positions on a piece of paper works fine, and player's imaginations work better when they're not seeing things as a grid.

I still think mass combat rules are called for in a game where PCs end up with near-limitless resources. With the type of people I play with, they always ALWAYS want an army, and they will want to plan how their battles will go. It would be nice if D&D supported this type of play so that I don't have to make up my own imbalanced rules. It always works out cuz I can change things on the fly, but again, it would be nice if this kind of stuff was already laid out so didn't have to change as much.

Speaking of cowardly NPCs, D&D really needs better defined rules for retreat/evasion, since I think most people would be inclined to run from a fight they don't think they'll win. Sometimes I even make my PCs run for it. "Your captured choker climbs to the 40 foot high skylight in the ceiling as you instruct, but then drops your grappling hook and lets out a sickening screech. Tens of reciprocating screeches echo back and the cavern begins filling in with 30+ chokers from small cracks and tunnels in the ceiling. RUN BITCHES!!!"

The problem with most mass combat rules is that they completly ignore how cool and powerful each persons character is and how they can upset the battlefield with massive spells or ultimate fighter cleaving.

I prefer to run mass combats from the characers point of view. Are they commanding armies. then skill checks for leaderships and tactics, also run a few small scirmishes that they personnaly fight alongside only a few of thier men. If skill checks go bad thier fights difficulty increases they loose men.

Or you can just break out a warhammer army and say lets go to your players. This is how we will resolve the war for my story.