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 Post subject: Mass Combat for D&D
PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:11 pm 
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Can anyone recommend a good mass combat system for D&D 3.5?

I was going to purchase Cry Havoc from Malhavoc, but I figured I'd check in here first to see what -- if anything -- other gamers might have tried.

Thoughts?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2006 7:36 pm 
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Heh. You should write them, Mike, so we can pay you for them. :)

Seriously, though, I'd love a quick and dirty system, with just enough complexity to make players feel like they can make a difference.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 7:49 am 
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Oh, I'm seriously considering it. :D

Reason I'm asking about this is because I remember using Battlesystem eons ago in a 1st-edition AD&D campaign, where the player characters got to become the generals in an epic battle. Dozens and dozens of miniatures, spread out on a ping-pong table in a garage -- it took two marathon sessions to fight that sucker. It was pretty awesome.

I remember Battlesystem being pretty easy to blend with 1st edition AD&D, but I don't know if that's because the system was that good, or our DM was just that good at tweaking the conversion system. I'd love something similar for 3.5, where at the end of an adventure, it's the player characters leading the troops to war against armies of unspeakable evil ...


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:30 am 
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I remember Battlesystem being a good blend. Simpler than the hardcore wargaming rules, but complicated enough to make tactics useful. I'd like something with a heroic element added though, really allowing PCs to shine with dramatic moments.

Dunno if you have the 1st L5R rulebook (non-Wizards, non-d20), but they had some tables that proved useful in an old samurai campaign I ran.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:40 am 
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While you guys were wasting time with old RPG battle systems, I was playing BattleMasters.... :D

Image

Fun, silly early Warhammer-themed combat game with the Empire vs. the Chaos army. Being the Chaos army ruled. You were goblins and trolls and skeleton soldiers...


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:52 am 
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Harley Stroh wrote:
I remember Battlesystem being a good blend. Simpler than the hardcore wargaming rules, but complicated enough to make tactics useful. I'd like something with a heroic element added though, really allowing PCs to shine with dramatic moments.


I totally agree. Ideally, the player characters should be able to do more than just be generals deciding tactics - they should be able to influence the outcome of the battle with their actions alone. A mid- to high-level paladin should be able to whip up on a battalion of hobgoblins single-handedly. The PCs should definitely have the chance to be the true heroes of the battle, and become the stuff of legend.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:56 am 
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Jeff LaSala wrote:
While you guys were wasting time with old RPG battle systems, I was playing BattleMasters.... :D



I wanted to own that game so badly. I lusted over the catalogs with it. :) It's probably better in my imagination than the actual execution.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:30 am 
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Mike_Ferguson wrote:
Ideally, the player characters should be able to do more than just be generals deciding tactics - they should be able to influence the outcome of the battle with their actions alone. A mid- to high-level paladin should be able to whip up on a battalion of hobgoblins single-handedly. The PCs should definitely have the chance to be the true heroes of the battle, and become the stuff of legend.


Some thoughts: 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons places an emphasis on miniature-oriented table top rules. Whatever you did would have to be born out of that orientation.

One of the things L5R allowed for (if memory serves ... I usually end up fudging in favor of dramatics) were moments like fighting your way through to the enemy leaders/heroes for a dramatic showdown, capturing the enemy’s standard (of dubious use in a non-samurai game), stopping a rout, that sort of thing.

This would be a great place to introduce some new feats and skills, and to make the charisma stat not suck.

12 levels in fighter? Charisma was your dump stat? Guess that Aristocrat/Expert with an 18 charisma and the leadership feat is going to whoop all over your sorry army!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:47 am 
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You know what might be really cool about this is that it will serve to develop certain monsters that are inclined to be classed general types. What monsters tend to have a high charisma? Heck if I know, but I bet my players will after that first horde crosses the ridge. :)

It will also reinforce the idea that charisma is force of personality, not just how cute your PC is.

Ooh, ooh, ooh! Do a chapter on mercenary companies! And spells for mass combat/divine wrath. Hehehehehe. Harley's wish list is getting silly.

Mike Ferguson's Dogs of War; I want to put in my pre-order for the book right now. :):):)

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Last edited by Harley Stroh on Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:06 am 
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And spells/weapons explaining why a world with flying monsters evolved walled castles. (Maybe ballistas w/ chained harpoons can explain this. Eat spiked spear, dragon!)

And stats for weird catapult shot, like thunderstones and stuff. Maybe a thunderstone ballista head, but that is stretching the genre in directions that make me nervous.

Develop rules and we'll playtest them at the Goodman booth come GenCon!

I’m going to shut up now. Honest.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:04 pm 
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(furiously scribbles down Harley's ideas)

Shut up? Please don't. You raise a lot of good ideas and valid points. But we may have to continue the discussion by e-mail or phone, otherwise we'll probably kill all of Joseph's server space. :twisted:

I had a chance to discuss this at lunch with a gamer friend of mine (who also participated in the aforementioned ping-pong table battles), he had some good insights into what a "battle system" needs - as well as some pitfalls.

I've not read the 1st L5R rulebook - guess I might have to scour eBay for a copy. As well as the original Battlesystem rules.

Hmm. "Dogs of War". Like the sound of that ... :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:25 pm 
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If you're not into spaghetti samurai, don't bother buying the book. I'll try to summarize them over the weekend. Really just 2 or 3 kewl ideas.

Battlesystem did a great job of making wargaming available to kids without the money to buy a ton of minatures. Whatever you do, try to get the publisher to sign on to producing the cardboard tokens for all us poor kids. :)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:48 pm 
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More cool stuff:

How much does it cost to go to war?! I.e. why is it a financial last resort. (Remember the table in the old DMG? You could hire an elven archer for something like 20gp/month.)

In addition to just a table of hirelings, it would be neat to examine the strengths and weaknesses of different sorts of armies: a slave army (close to Mike's heart!), one of peasant conscripts (what happens to the farms when the farmers all die?), one of mercenary companies, etc.

You wouldn't have to get crazy specific with supply lines, but when an army is on the move it stretches out for miles. How come my elven rangers never get to ambush the center of the orcish supply line? How long does it take to build camp fortifications? How long does it take to build a siege engine?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:59 pm 
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I feel like I'm watching two grown up kids with little green army men in a sandbox. :) Great stuff.

Massive battle strategy and combat systems never appealed to me. I like the small, strike team concept. That is, adventuring parties. :) But the questions you guys raise are very cool, and I can see the appeal. Keep at it.

And if you ever want any thoughts on just what a fortress might look like if it were designed by human-headed, snake-bodied creatures, you know where I am... :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 8:38 am 
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I'm not a particularly big fan of mass combat systems myself - I play the occasional War Machine session at my semi-local game store, but for the most part, that's it.

Main reason for this, though, is because I can't get into wargaming scenarios - there's never a compelling storyline for me. But if I could mix the wargaming with my campaign ... well, then I'd have a story. I like the idea of being able to essentially play Aragorn in a RPG campaign, and be able to lead an army into combat like the battle at Helms Deep. I personally don't think I'd ever use a mass combat system often within the structure of a RPG campaign, but it would definitely open up a new dimension within my games.

I started working on a "needs sheet" this weekend ... namely, what my ideal mass combat system would need in order to integrate seemlessly with a D&D 3.5 campaign. I'll keep you all updated as I start to add some nuts and bolts to this things ... :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 12:15 pm 
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Harley Stroh wrote:
And spells/weapons explaining why a world with flying monsters evolved walled castles. (Maybe ballistas w/ chained harpoons can explain this. Eat spiked spear, dragon!).


Yeah - the initial playtests for this (assuming I can get myself to start writing something like this) should be pretty interesting.

In the 1st-edition AD&D/Battlesystem war I mentioned earlier, one of the first things we did when attacking a castle was to hire a xorn. That thing was a terror - instant tunnels underneath the castle walls, allowing us to dump massive amounts of troops inside the fortifications with ease. Even we were horrified by how effective the blasted thing was, and it was on our side!!

For the next battle, the DM had created a new spell. "Transmute Soil to Poison". :twisted:

But that's what makes writing things like combat systems fun. Finding and fixing the holes, seeing what sort of "arms race" develops between the rules lawyers playtesting the game ...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:28 pm 
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Mike (et al),

I have a mass combat system in the works for my own group. Email me if you'd like to see what I have (please allow up to a week for a response, very very busy with work).

Email: goldsmith (at) stny (dot) rr (dot) com

Note: Those who have frequented my website will know that this system is the Warlord Wars system I developed about a year+ ago. It works very well for d20 gaming (though it's still really rough and I'll have to scan my handwritten notes for you).

:lol:

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