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Mass Combat Table

Attack Efficiency

% of Max Damage

Attackers Morale

Defenders Morale

-102 -6 +6


All of the material provided here is intended to be used solely for the purpose of facilitating the campaign which I and my Players are involved in, and for the encouragement and enrichment of participation in role playing games in general. If you find something useful here, good. Just don't try and take credit for it yourself. So what does all this mean you ask? Simply, this....
First off, take note of half of the maximum damage of the weapon being used by the attacking unit. Say a long sword used against a medium opponent. This would be a "4".
The Attack roll is made with a d20. This roll is compared to the armor class of the defender. If the roll was, for example, "3" points higher than needed to hit, you reference the result and apply it to the Attack Efficiency column on the above table. A roll of +3 results in 65% of the Maximum Damage that this unit can produce as a whole. Say there were 2,000 men armed with long swords. They have rolled 3 better than needed to hit as a unit. They have achieved 65% of their weapon's average damage, which = 5,200 hit points. This number is then divided by the maximum number of hit points for the average defender, let us say 12 hit points. The resulting number is 433 casualties on the defendering unit. Quite deadly aren't they:> But wait, there is more.
If niether unit moved to attack, both units attack simultaneously. Meaning, the defenders above are allowed to return fire at their full numbers. We will say that they have rolled badly, 5 less than needed to hit. This yields 25% of 4 for a dwarven battle axe. There are 2,000 defenders. The attacking Humans above have 8 hit points each. They have lost 250 of their men as casualties. Not quite as good as the Humans, but deadly in their own right...

Using the example above, we now apply morale to the mix. The Human Units attack was at +3. This penalizes the Dwarven Morale by -1 from their total of 14. The Humans cannot gain any Morale, because they, like the Dwarves, entered combat with maximum morale.
The Dwarven attack was a lousy showing, despite the large number of casualties they inflicted. The Dwarves suffer an additional -2 penalty to their morale, and the Humans still gain nothing. The Dwarven Morale Total for the end of the round is 11, and the Human Morale Total remains at 10. Applying the standing rules for morale checks found in the DMG, and you can see that niether Unit is required to roll for a morale check, yet.
If in continuing rounds, the Dwarves roll consistently higher than the Humans, they will most likely force a morale check on their enemy, and perhaps win the battle before everyone is slaughtered. Most battles end before wholesale carnage anyway, and morale is encorporated in the design of this system to reflect this fact...

Movement and Mass Combat....

If movement occurs during a combat round, it should be subtrated from the total number of attacks for the moving unit. *(This statement assumes that both attacker and defender have equal movement rates. Exceptions are noted following this.)
A unit moving half their total "Move" halves the number of attacks the unit can make. It also means that if they have a "Move" equal to or less than their opponents, they will attack later in the round, and thus suffer the brunt of the defenders attacks, as well as casulaties, before they are allowed to attack themselves.
Now the exceptions. A Unit with twice the normal movement rate of their opponent, may make a half move and attack at full strength. This does not apply to Units ordered to Run or Sprint, (who are by virtue of these actions, forbidden from attacking) but does apply to those ordered to Charge. The difference here is all in movement. Charging characters move at one and a half times their normal rate into combat. Running Characters throw defensive thought asside and beat feet at double their normal rate of movement. Sprinters triple their move and likewise throw caution and other action to the wind.

Composition of Casualties

There are two methods which can be used to resolve the question of casualties. One is simple and occurs after the battle has concluded thus avoiding the complications of tracking casualties throughout the combat. If you are just looking for a quick solution the simpler method will suffice. The other method involves tagging and tracking damaged units throughout the combat. You can do this with notepad or wordpad of paper and pencil, what have you. In either case, to resolve the composition of your casualties you must first roll two d20's. The resulting numbers are added together and this is the total number of deceased individuals. Roll two d20's again and add the resulting numbers. These are the total of your critically wounded. At this point, if you wish to be technical, you may roll out individual critical hits or you may roll them in batches of whatever size seems reasonable. The remaining casualties are considered walking wounded. In method one, all of the results take place following the battle. The walking wounded would be considered to have left combat with the retreating army or remained if their allies were defeated and surrendered. If pressed they can defend themselves. If rallied they can mount attacks.
In method two of course, you are tracking the casualties as they occur on a round by round basis. Each round you roll two d20's for deceased and two more for the critically wounded, resolve critical wounds to your satisfaction, then decide the fate of the walking wounded. In my own book, I'd suggest rolling a morale check for the walking wounded as a separate group. If they succeed, they can reunite with their fellows and take up the battle again. If not they retreat.
The critically wounded can be treated a couple of different ways. The simpliest way is to consider them unable to move or act but yet not take the time to determine their individual critical hits on a chart or anything. They may be slain where they lay as if prone. They will require critical healing to be raised to a walking wounded status. If you wish a more detailed resolution of the critical hits, I suggest rolling a d100 to determine the percentage of wounded who received a certian type of critical wound. Then determine the type of wound for that percent of wounded. Go on until you've taken up the whole group. Otherwise, do each person individually if you really need that much detail. I don't suggest it, but in a small scale war, you might have the time and inclination to do so. In some of the wars I've run, there have been engagements lasting days involving thousands of combatants. The more people you have involved, the easier it is to just go for the simple resolutions.
The walking wounded, while walking are individuals who've been reduced to 1 hit point(for purposes of consciousness and activity). They can still get about and act, but if they enter combat after being rallied they are really taking their lives into their hands. Any wound will kill them outright.

Spellcasters in Mass Combat...

It is my thought that they should roll initiative as a whole in support of whichever unit they are detached too, unless they are active Player's Characters choosing to do something unusual or separate from a combined effort. The rolled initiative is the segment of the combat round for such groups when their spell,"Get's off". Subdivision of spellcasting groups is as follows in this example;
We will say that in the above example, the Humans had 10 Wizards supporting them. The Dwarves had 10 Priests. The Human initiative roll was 4. Beforehand, the person in charge of the Human unit decided that five of the ten Wizards would cast Fireball spells,(noting their targets at this time as well) and the other five Wizards would cast Stoneskin spells on themselves.
The Wizards all use the 4 for intiative, with the five who were casting Fireballs getting off in the 4th segment, and the other five, the following segment, (due to this spell having a longer casting time). In the case of spells which overrun a round, they are carried over into the next round of combat and those spellcasters overruning, are subtracted from the number of those rolling for intiative, as a whole for this round. In effect, their initiative is overridden by last rounds action.

Player Characters in Mass Combat...

They may act either independently of their unit, command their unit, or in concert with their unit, of course. They are still required to roll initiative if they act independently of the unit. If a Player Character directly commands a Unit, this unit enjoys a +1 to it's Morale Score, above and beyond that it would noramlly have.

Special Combat Manuvers

include but are not limited too;
  • Shield Wall
  • Spear Hedge
  • Cavalry Charge
  • Horse Archery
  • Dragon Turtle Formation(details forthcoming)
  • Percent
    My Comment

    If you have additions, suggestions, or comments on or for the above system, please post me or get hold of me. I am always willing to hear and consider your input. If you are one of my Players, remember, it is your campaign too. Thank you for your interest if you are here otherwise:)