Monday, November 2, 2015


When we made Servants of Gaius we developed a system for managing large scale war between armies. This was just a necessary outgrowth of what was happening at the table. Over time the system morphed with each game we released. So in Sertorius we made tweaks to improve the Armies and War mechanics, then with Ogre Gate we refined the numbers even further. However it was almost always used for highly abstract large scale battles where the players were not expected to be in the fray. One thing that has arisen in my Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate campaign is martial heroes leading and taking to the battle field during mass combat, particularly when sects clash. I want to talk a bit about how I approach and how I use the Armies and War system in such circumstances. 

First, I've become very freeform in my application of the system itself. The ebb and flow of forces on the battle field, particularly when the numbers are just on the cusp of warranting use of the Armies and War system, demands a certain amount of flexibility because you want to preserve the sense of reality for the players. I wouldn't want to further complicate the system by adding in new steps, but the basic premise is to occasionally insert normal melee rounds in between phases of battle. 

When I run a large scale battle, I don't stick to a strict unit of time like rounds. Rather, after describing the situation, I have the players tell me what they are doing and what they are commanding their men to do. Factoring in the actions described by the players and assigning bonuses/penalties as needed, I then have both sides make their Combat Rolls. Based on the results I determine what happens and explain that to the players, then I ask them what they want to do and treat their action as a sort of mini-melee within the battle. They may just stay in the rear and issue commands, but often times they will fly up to the walls to take out archers with their Qi blasts or try to cut a swath through advancing troops. When they do these sorts of things, how well they succeed has a strong impact on any modifiers for the next roll. 

I will then make another Combat Roll for large scale troop movement and describe what unfolds based on the results, once again turning to the players and asking them what they want to do. 

This is what works best for me. I find it allows for exciting situations on the battle field but also creates a believable sense of a real battle going on around the party. 

Here are the current rules (pre-edits) for Mass Combat in Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. 

Armies and War 
Occasionally the need manage large scale combat in a simple way may arise. There are many options for handling this when it does occur. The most straight forward is to use miniatures on battle grid and play out a full conflict. This is an entirely acceptable option, but some groups find it too slow. Since Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate is designed to play fast, with a focus on role-play, we provide a simple mass combat system that can adjudicate most battles in a small series of rolls. Use the following tools to handle military combat.

Note: Sometimes you will want to use this system for smaller scale battles, between dozens or hundreds of men, rather than thousands, you can simply scale the numbers accordingly dividing Army Size by 10. So 500 becomes 50 and 2,000 becomes 200.

Combat Roll
Combat between armies and naval forces functions a bit like combat between characters, except there is no Damage Roll. When two armies collide, they each roll their Combat Rating (a number of d10 arrived at by consulting the Army Combat Rating Chart) and the side with the single highest result wins that clash of arms. On a Success, the winning army inflicts casualties, deducting one slot from the opponent’s Army Strength (this works like Wounds). On a Total Success, the winner inflicts double casualties, deducting 2 slots from the opponent’s Army Strength. When an army’s Strength is depleted it is defeated (though it can always choose to surrender before that time). In addition to inflicted casualties, both sides deduct one slot of Strength due to Attrition whether they win or lose. Attrition is avoided if you get a Total Success on your Combat Roll.

If one side chooses to flee, but the other chooses to press, roll as normal with the following exception: the side that flees must sacrifice all its modifiers to Combat Rating (excluding those of Divine origin). If the fleeing side wins, they successfully outmaneuver their opponents and escape. If they lose, they take an additional casualty in addition to any others sustained.

The Combat Roll itself doesn’t necessarily represent direct fighting.  It also includes things like poisoning food supplies and guerilla combat. Casualties do not represent actual deaths. It includes deaths, but also covers desertion, surrender, etc.

Combat Rating 
The attack rating of an army is between 0d10 to 6d10 (just like Skills) and based on size, leadership, training and resources. Combat Ratings begin at 2d10 and are raised or lowered by the modifiers listed on the Army Combat Rating Chart. These ratings always cap at 6d10 (except when the modifiers are divine in nature).

Strength is directly tied to an army’s size and functions like Wounds. Strength ranges from 1-10. Consult the Army Strength Chart to find an army’s Strength rating. A force of roughly 2,000 men has a rating of 3, while an army of 18,000 has a Strength of 6.

Pre-Combat Skill Rolls 
When PCs are in a position to rally troops or devise clever plans of action, they should be permitted up to three Skill Rolls before Combat to boost morale and raise the Combat Rating Score of the Army. These can include giving a stirring speech (Persuade) or trying to reinforce discipline (Command), or even checking for omens of favor from heaven (Divination).

Calculating Casualties 
When you lose Army Strength, you lose soldiers. If you have a rating of 10, that indicates 100,000 men in your army. If you take 2 Casualty slots, your Army is reduced to 50,000 men. This represents everything from death to surrender.

Strength Rating

Forces smaller by one increment
Forces smaller by two increments
Forces smaller by three increments
Forces larger by one increment
Forces larger by three increments
Forces larger by four increments
Less equipped than enemy
Better equipped than enemy
Less training/discipline than enemy
Greater training/discipline than enemy
Lower Morale than enemy
Greater morale than enemy
Tactical Advantage
Tactical Disadvantage
Favored by the Heaven
Disfavored by Heaven
Martial Heroes

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