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Tag Archives: mass combat

D&D 5E – Mass Combat Rules

Wars_Book_Cover

Rules for conducting massive battles in D&D.

You can download a free copy here: D&D Wars 5E.pdf

This is a complete re-write of the rules I published before (3.5 version here) (Next version here). In keeping with the spirit of 5e, these are simpler and play faster than any of my previous attempts.

D&D Wars is a supplement to fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons that provides a set of mass combat rules for conducting battles with units as small as one to armies numbering in the thousands. D&D Wars are not simply armies making battle with each other. It is armies intermixed with monsters and NPCs. Added to this mix is a group of PC heroes doing what they can to change the tide of the war.

– The rules are compatible with Dungeons and Dragons version 5E.

– There are rules for creating armies comprised of units of various sizes and compositions.

– It has consistent rules for scaling the battle from a small group of villagers with torches and pitchforks all the way up to epic battles with thousands of soldiers on both sides.

– The rules accommodate individual monsters wandering across the battlefield as well as other NPCs and PCs that are not part of the units.

– It uses standard combat rules without modification as far as possible.

Enjoy!

Mass Combat Rules – for D&D Next

Download a free copy of D&D Wsrs for D&D Next here [D&D Wars Next].

This is a complete re-write of the D&D Wars supplement to third edition Dungeons & Dragons that I published here[D&D Wars] in 2012. This re-write simplifies those rules and brings them in line with D&D Next (the current playtest version of v5.0). You can use these rules with v3.5 with little or no adjustments.

Consider this an interim version of these rules. I will make any needed tweaks to them and re-publish them when the official v5.0 rules are published.

As always, all comments are welcome.

Enjoy!

Addendum: On page 13, it says” For every 10 points healed, a counter is added back to the unit.” That should instead say “A counter is added back to the unit every time the number of hit points healed is equal to the maximum number of hit points in one counter.”

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D&D Wars – Mass Combat Rules

War_book_cover

D&D Wars – Front Cover

[There is an updated version of these rules available here: D&D Wars ]

Download these mass combat rules here (free): WAR

D&D Wars is a supplement to third edition Dungeons & Dragons that provides a set of mass combat rules for conducting battles with units as small as one to armies numbering in the thousands. D&D Wars are not simply armies making battle with each other. It is armies intermixed with monsters and NPCs. Added to this mix is a group of PC heroes doing what they can to change the tide of the war.

–My goals in creating these rules —

– The rules must be compatible with Dungeons and Dragons version 3.5.

– There must be rules for creating armies comprised of units of various sizes and compositions.

– It must have consistent rules for scaling the battle from a small group of villagers with torches and pitchforks all the way up to epic battles with thousands of soldiers on both sides.

– The rules must accommodate individual monsters wandering across the battlefield as well as other NPCs and PCs that are not part of the units.

– It must use standard combat rules without modification as far as possible.

– To this end:

  • It uses a standard 6 second combat round.
  • Creatures occupy the standard amount of space. The size represented by a 1” square is larger than the standard 5 ft (15 ft. being typical). Thus accommodating larger size armies.
  • Movement, Armor Class, Hit Points and Attacks/Damage for individual creatures that are not a part of a unit remain unchanged.
  • Movement, Armor Class, Hit Points and Attacks/Damage for one counter (representing several creatures that cover 1 square as part of a unit) will be the same as for a single standard creature. That way when counters of one unit attack counters of another unit, standard combat rules apply with very few exceptions.
  • Individual creatures that are not in a unit can attack, and be attacked by, the creatures in a unit. In either case it will be creatures attacking creatures. A simple conversion is done to calculate the amount of damage.
  • To speed up play, because of the potentially large number of units, monsters, NPCs, siege weapons, and PCs involved, each of them is restricted to only one action (move, attack or defense) each round. Also creatures with multiple attacks each round (except for PCs) will get only one attack action.
  • Then of course there must be special morale rules and rules for how to handle magic spells cast by or against units.
  • Throw in some rules for siege engines and I’m done.

Before creating these rules, I tried to find out if someone else had already done this, and I found several who had.

First, there are several excellent wargame systems. A mass combat system for an RPG and a wargame are not the same thing. Excellent wargames don’t necessarily deliver as RPG mass combat systems so I passed on them.

Second, I found several homebrew systems. Most of these are of the “treat a unit as a really large monster” variety. These all work for their games, of course, but most fall short of what I was looking for.

Third, there are a few serious, published attempts at creating RPG mass combat rules.

The best of these are described below in no particular order.

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Adamant Entertainment’s “Warpath

This is a Pathfinder supplement.

Even though it is not specifically for v3.5 it is close enough with only minor adjustments.

What I like:

It is an excellent, well thought out system. It uses a clever idea of making each 1” square represent 10 feet and each unit be represented by a 3”x6” index card.

It also contains information on the upkeep of an army, mustering armies, supplying an army and siege warfare. There is an alternate way to quickly resolve mass combat in only a few rolls of the dice.

It uses a standard 6 second combat round.

It is well presented and I got a lot of good information from here.

Why I didn’t use it:

It assumes that the PCs are commanders of the army, or at least unit leaders. There are no good rules to allow a PC to act independently from the unit (other than being a solo unit).

There are no rules to deal with units in combat against individual monsters or heroes.

It doesn’t scale well for different size battles. The rules for larger battles are unsatisfactory. It simply recommends that you use larger unit cards and to “be sure you have the space available” for all of the additional space it will take up on the battle matt.

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Mongoose Publishing’s “Mass Combat

This is a supplement to Conan The Roleplaying Game which is v3.5 compatible.

What I like:

This is one of the best set of rules that I found. It does a good job of integrating v3.5 rules into a set of mass combat rules.

They have good rules for resolving magic use against units and for war machines.

It treats units as a group of counters, with each counter representing a number of individuals.

It uses a standard 6 second combat round.

Why I didn’t use it:

It relies heavily on unit formations, unit faces and a special “surge” attack. I wanted to avoid having facing rules. D&D 3.5 has no facing rules for creatures, so I didn’t want to introduce this into my mass combat system.

It is a little vague on how much space a counter covers.

Units do not make saving throws, but always take the average amount of damage they would have received if each individual had made a separate saving throw.

There are no rules to deal with units in combat against individual monsters or heroes.

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Wizards of the Coast’s “Complete Warrior

This official D&D accessory contains a chapter on Fantasy Warfare.

What I like:

It has a very good overview of how one can integrate warfare into a standard D&D campaign.

It has a good list of ways PCs can tern the tide of battle, with a table of possible missions and mission complications.

It would be good to use if the war is simply going on around the PCs.

Why I didn’t use it:

It doesn’t have any mass combat rules.

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Udo’s D20 Mass Combat

This is a small (5 pages) document that attempts to bring mass combat to d20 games.

What I like:

It scales up nicely. One 1 inch square can represent a 5, 25 or 100 ft. square.

It uses standard rules for the most part.

Why I didn’t use it:

It uses a 0-10 scale for health and attack damage, rather than standard hit points.

Any monster or character would have to be converted to the 0-10 FSP (Force Strength Points) system for both hit points and attack damage.

The system, although workable, is a little too rules light for my taste.

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Races of War’s Mass Combat Minigame

A 3.5e Sourcebook

“It’s a mini-game inside regular 3.5e that has been designed for simplicity and a minimum of bookkeeping.”

What I like:

It introduces a morale score (similar to Hit Points). When the unit’s morale score reaches 0, the unit flees form the battlefield.

Why I didn’t use it:

It uses squares that represent 50’ x 50’. This is workable, but I wanted more flexibility for larger or smaller armies.

It doesn’t use a simple initiative order, but each army acts in an order depending on its position and type of attack.

The rules for attacking a unit with spells (other than damage causing spells) are turned into damage causing spells or have no effect.

It has no rules for anything other than units or PCs (No rules for monsters or siege weapons for example).