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! Mass Combat
The combat system described the Combat section is designed for small numbers of combatants. For large battles with hundreds or even thousands of combatants on either side, the system would be completely unworkable due to the amount of time and bookkeeping involved. Therefore this section presents rules for battles between armies. The battle system in this section is not designed for detailed simulation of a battle with the complexity of a war game. Such simulations are slow and rely on the tactical skill of the players. Instead, each clash between two armies is resolved in a single roll.
!! Basics Each army has three scores associated with it. It has a Troop Rating, which measures the experience and/or innate toughness of the troops, and which varies only when the troops gain in experience; a Quality, which is based on the Troop Rating but includes modifiers for mounts and special or magical abilities which may change between battles; and a Size, which is simply the number of troops in the army. When two armies enter battle with each other, the controller of each army decides on a tactic for the army to use in this battle, and then a Battle Score is calculated for each one. This score is based on the Quality of the army, modified by factors unique to the battle, such as the effectiveness of the tactics by each side against each other, the terrain and location in which the battle is fought, and how much one side outnumbers the other. The results of the battle are found by adding 1d100 to each Battle Score, and seeing which side gets the higher total. The amount by which one side or the other wins determines how many casualties each side takes and whether or not the losing army must retreat or even be routed.
If the two sides in a fight have multiple armies that take the field, the armies pair off and battle each other in pairs, with army with the highest Quality score selecting an opposing army to engage, then the unengaged army with the next highest Quality score, and so on until all armies are engaged.
Should one side have more armies than the other (which doesn’t necessarily mean they have more troops), the side with the fewest armies must split one or more of their armies until each side has the same number. Splitting an army in this way does not affect the Quality of the army, only the Size. Then the armies on both sides pair off as normal.
After each pair of armies has fought, one army from each pair will have been forced to leave the field of battle. If the armies remaining on the field are all on the same side, then the battle ends.
Otherwise, the remaining armies remanoeuvre and pair up again—again this may involve one or more armies splitting up so there are equal numbers of armies on each side.
Baroness Black’s dominion is under attack from a goblin horde. The goblin horde consists of two armies: a group of 500 skirmishers, and a group of 150 wolf riders.
Baroness Black’s dominion is protected by a single army of 600 foot soldiers. Deciding that the wolf riders are a bigger threat, Baroness Black splits her army into a 250 strong force and a 350 strong force.
The army with the highest Quality score is the wolf riders, and they attack the 250 troops. Baroness Black’s armies share the next highest Quality score (they both have the Quality of her original army, just smaller Sizes), so in theory her 350 troop army chooses next. There is only one other unengaged army to choose, so the 350 troops face off against the 500 goblin skirmishers. After the Battle Scores are added up for each battle, it turns out that the 250 troops force the 150 wolf riders to retreat, and only take 10% casualties while doing so. There are now 225 of them left.
The 500 goblin skirmishers force the 350 troop army to retreat, but take 40% casualties while doing so. There are now only 300 skirmishers left.
Since there are still armies belonging to both sides of the conflict on the field, the battle continues; with the 225 humans fighting against the 300 goblin skirmishers.
The goblin leader, not fancying these odds much, raises a flag of truce in order to try to negotiate.
!! Troop Rating The Troop Rating of an army is based on the amount of training, experience, and general toughness that an army has. The Troop Rating of an army may range from “Untrained” to “Elite”. See Table: Army Quality for the list of possible Troop Ratings.
Humans and Humanoids For human and humanoid troops, the initial Troop Rating of a force gathered from peasant militia will be either “Poor” if comprised of 10% of the peasants in an area or “Untrained” if comprised of 20% of the peasants. If mercenaries or other professional soldiers are hired, the initial Troop Rating will be “Below Average”. For each year that the army spends active without disbanding, it gains a level of Troop Rating, to a maximum rating of “Average”, which is the highest rating available to troops that have not seen combat experience. After the army has won (not merely fought) its first battle, the Troop Rating immediately increases by one level, and can now (by further years of training) reach “Elite”. Any time an army is routed as the result of a battle, its Troop Rating immediately drops by one level.
Monsters without levels Because monsters do not normally gain in experience and levels, their Troop Rating is simply based on their hit dice according to the following: * Less than 1 HD = Untrained * 1 HD = Poor * 1+ to 2 HD = Below Average * 2+ to 3 HD = Fair * 3+ to 5 HD = Average * 5+ to 7 HD = Good * 7+ to 9 HD = Excellent * 9+ HD or more = Elite
There are three cases when troops of two different Troop Ratings will be combined to form a single army. Firstly, two smaller armies may be being combined into a single army. Secondly, new recruits may be joining an experienced army to replace combat losses. Thirdly, new recruits may be joining an experience army to simply increase its Size.
Note that in this latter case, it may or may not be strategically better to keep the recruits separate and maintain two smaller armies with differing ratings than to maintain a single larger army.
In each of these cases, the combined army starts at the Troop Rating of its best troops, and loses one rating per 20% of the combined army that has come from the less good troops. This reduction cannot reduce the army to a lower Troop Rating than the less good troops were before the merge.
Additionally, if the troops are human or demi-human and 50% or more of the combined army has not yet won a battle, then the whole army is considered to no longer have combat experience and cannot rise above “Average” until it wins a battle.
Baroness Black has an army of 400 mercenaries that have defended her dominion for the past four years, although they have not seen a battle in that time. They were “Below Average” when she hired them, so after four years together they should have become “Excellent”. However, their lack of actual battle experience limits them to “Average”.
When she received news that there was a goblin horde on its way to attack her dominion, she decided to bolster her army by recruiting another 100 mercenaries. As with her initial army, these new recruits start with a Troop Rating of “Below Average”.
Her combined army now consists of 500 troops, 80% of which were “Average”, and 20% of which were “Below Average”. Since 20% of her combined army is from the troops of lesser quality, her army is now considered to be one level less than the quality of her best troops—i.e. “Fair”.
As more than 50% of her combined army has not yet won a battle (actually, none of her army has), the entire army is considered to be lacking in real combat experience and is limited to a maximum rating of “Average”.
To determine the Quality of such an army, consult Table: Army Quality.
Each troop rating has a base quality and a bonus. To determine the Quality
of the army, start with the base quality, and for each of the following statements that is true, add the bonus:
* At least 20% of the army is mounted.
* At least 50% of the army is mounted.
* At least 1% of the army can fly.
* At least 20% of the army can fly.
* The average movement rate of the army is at least 35’ per round.
* At least 20% of the army can have missile weapons.
* At least 20% of the army have missile weapons with a range of at least 100’.
* At least 1% of the army have magical abilities (breath weapons, poison, regeneration, energy drain, etc.)
* At least 20% of the army have magical abilities (breath weapons, poison, regeneration, energy drain, etc.)
* 100% of the army have magical abilities (breath weapons, poison, regeneration, energy drain, etc.)
* At least 5% of the army are spell casters.
* At least 30% of the army are spell casters.
Lucy the Game Master is making notes for the following evening’s game. She knows that the goblin tribes that Baroness Black has been encouraging adventurers to raid are forming a horde to come and attack her. The horde will consist of two armies; an army of 500 skirmishers and an army of 150 wolf riders.
Looking at the wolf riders, Lucy sees that the army will actually be a combination of 75 wolves and 75 goblins. The goblins are less than 1 hit die each, so rank as “Untrained” troops. The wolves are 2+ hit dice each so rank as “Fair”. Therefore the army as a whole will be two ranks below “Fair”, i.e. “Poor”. Lucy combines the troop types like this because the wolves are combatant in their own right. Had the goblins been riding ponies or horses, then they would simply have counted as 150 “Untrained” goblins.
This gives the army a basic quality of 28, with a +3 bonus for each statement from the list is true. They are all mounted, so they get two +3 adds for that. Their movement rate is at least 35’ per round, so they get another +3 add. They are the only adds that apply, so the total Quality of the wolf rider army is:
28 +( 3 x 3 ) = 37
!! Resolving a Battle Once both sides of the battle have ensured that they each have the same number of armies and have sorted out which armies will be engaging one another, the battles between individual armies can commence. Firstly, determine if either side is In Defence. A side is considered to be In Defence if it occupies the battlefield before the other army arrives and waits for the other army to come to it. If both armies meet each other together, then neither is considered to be In Defence. Resolving each battle has three steps: Deciding on tactics, Calculating Battle Score, and then rolling for the battle itself.
!!! Tactics The commander of each side must decide on the tactic that their armies will use in the day’s battles. Note that this is a single decision made for all the armies together, not a decision made on an army by army basis. All armies on one side work together to achieve the goals of the tactic decided by the commander.
The six tactics are: Attack: This is the most basic tactic. The armies simply move forward and engage the enemy. Although effective against withdrawing or holding armies, armies using this tactic can find themselves suffering if the enemy tries to envelop them or lure them into a trap. However, overall it is still one of the less risky tactics. Envelop: The armies try to surround the enemy and attack from all sides. It is particularly effective against enemies who are holding position, but leaves the armies vulnerable to direct attacks and attempts to overrun. Hold: The armies try to hold position, letting the enemy come to them and engaging them when they do. This tactic is a good defence against a normal attack or an attempt to lure the armies into a trap, but it is easily enveloped and can be counterproductive when the enemy tries to overrun the holding armies. Overrun: This is an all out attack, charging the enemies and attempting to punch through the front ranks to attack the more vulnerable troops. It is great for punching a hole through troops that are trying to envelop you or for running down troops that are trying to withdraw, but it can be a costly tactic in terms of casualties. Trap: The armies try to lure the enemy into making costly lunges and flanking manoeuvres, before attacking those troops committed to such manoeuvres. This tactic is effective against attacking troops and can be devastating against troops that are trying to overrun you; but is very weak against armies that are reluctant to engage directly, such as those trying to hold position or withdraw from combat completely. Withdraw: This is simply an attempt to leave the battlefield with as little fighting as possible. It is a risky manoeuvre against enemies which are attacking directly or trying to overrun you, but can often avoid a fight completely if the enemy is holding position. The player and Game Master (or the two players) should each write down the tactic that their armies are using, before revealing them simultaneously.
|Tactic Chosen||Enemy Tactic|
|Attack||+10% Cas||+10% Cas||-||-20 BS||+10% Cas||+10 BS|
|Envelop||-10 BS||-||+20 BS||+10% Cas||-10% Cas||+10 BS|
|Hold||-10% Cas||+20% Cas||No Combat||-25 BS||-10% Cas||No Combat|
|Overrun||+20% Cas||+10 BS||+20% Cas||+20% Cas||+20% Cas||+20 BS|
|Trap||+10 BS||-20 BS||-20 BS||+20 BS||-||-10% Cas|
|Withdraw||+20% Cas||-10% Cas||No Combat||+30% Cas||-10% Cas||No Combat|
Table: Tactics, above, shows the effect that each tactic has on the battle, based on the tactic that it is facing. Each side should consult this table separately.
The effect will either be a modification in the number of casualties taken, a modification to the army’s Battle Score, no combat taking place, or no effect.
Baroness Black thinks that goblins are likely to attack directly, so decides that the best tactic is to try to lead them into traps and ambushes. Sure enough, the Game Master decides that the goblins are going to throw subtlety to the wind and try to overrun Baroness Black’s troops. Marcie checks table 14-2, and sees that using the trap tactic against an overrun will give each of Baroness Black’s armies a +20 to their Battle Score. The Game Master also checks the table, and sees that using the overrun tactic into a trap will give each of the goblin armies +20% casualties.
!!! Battle Score The basic Battle Score of an army is equal to its Quality. This basic score is increased by a fixed amount for each of the following statements that is true: * +15 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 1.5 to 1 but less than 2 to 1. * +30 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 2 to 1 but less than 3 to 1. * +45 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 3 to 1 but less than 4 to 1. * +60 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 4 to 1 but less than 5 to 1. * +70 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 5 to 1 but less than 6 to 1. * +80 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 6 to 1 but less than 7 to 1. * +90 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 7 to 1 but less than 8 to 1. * +100 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 8 to 1 but less than 11 to 1. * +110 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 11 to 1 but less than 16 to 1. * +120 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 16 to 1 but less than 21 to 1. * +130 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 21 to 1 but less than 31 to 1. * +140 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 31 to 1 but less than 41 to 1. * +150 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 41 to 1 but less than 51 to 1. * +160 if the army outnumbers its opponent by at least 51 to 1. * +10 if the army is in the dominion of their liege. * +10 if the army have beaten this enemy before. * +10 if the troop class of the army is at least two levels higher than that of their enemy. * +30 if ambushing an enemy while the enemy is marching. * -10 if any allied force has routed. * +20 if the battle is at night and the entire army has low light vision. * +20 if attacking from higher ground. * +20 for a Halfling army in fields or woods. * +10 for an Elf army in woods or forest. * +10 for a Dwarf army in hills or mountains. * -20 for mounted troops in mountains, woods, or at a stronghold. * -20 for combat in swamp unless at least half the army can fly. * -10 for combat in snow or sand unless at least half the army can fly. * +10 if the army is In Defence. * +50 if In Defence of a bridge, narrow pass, or gorge. * +40 if In Defence and the attacker must cross deep water. * +20 if In Defence of mountains, hills, or a town. * +50 if In Defence of a stronghold. * +30 if the army has more (by value) siege weaponry than its enemy does. * +50 if at least 1% of the army is immune to the enemy’s attacks. * +50 if the whole army is immune to at least 80% of the enemy’s attacks. * +50 if the whole army is immune to all of the enemy’s attacks. * -10 if the army has medium fatigue. * -30 if the army has severe fatigue.
!!! Rolling For The Battle Once both armies who are engaging each other have had their final Battle Scores calculated, the controller of each one rolls 1d100 and adds it to their army’s Battle Score. Whichever side gets the highest total wins the battle, and the other side loses the battle. The Game Master subtracts the total of the loser from the total of the winner, and checks on Table: Battle Results, below, to see what the effect is on each army. Table 14-3 has three columns for each army, detailing casualties, location and fatigue. The results for each army work in the same manner. Casualties: The size of the army is reduced by the given percentage. Remember that this percentage may be modified up or down by the tactics that the army used. It is not possible for an army to take more than 100% casualties. Location: After the battle is finished, this shows the location of the army. It may hold the battlefield, have been forced to retreat one or more miles, or have advanced one or more miles in pursuit of the enemy. Note that advancing in this manner is compulsory in order to inflict the casualties on the enemy army. Additionally, any army that was using the “Withdraw” tactic may move an extra mile (but only away from the enemy, not towards it). Fatigue: This shows how fatigued the battle makes the army. Fatigue affects the Battle Score of the army in future battles that occur on the same day. Fatigue is removed from an army by spending a single day neither moving nor fighting. Rout: An army that is routed ceases to exist as a unit. Whichever troops survive the fight will scatter, and slowly return to their homes, arriving 1d10 weeks after the battle.
Table: Battle Results
|Difference in Battle Scores||Winner||Loser|
|31-38||20%||Retreat 1||Medium||40%||Retreat 1||Severe|
|51-63||20%||Advance 1||Medium||50%||Retreat 4||Severe|
|64-80||30%||Advance 1||Medium||60%||Retreat 5||Severe|
|81-90||10%||Advance 3||None||50%||Retreat 4||Severe|
*Maximum possible result if the winner was using the “Hold” tactic.
!! Aftermath When all the pairs of armies involved in the battle have finished fighting, the result will be that some will have held the field and some will have moved away—either in retreat or in pursuit of retreating armies. If all the armies that still hold the field are on the same side, the battle is finished for the day. If armies of both sides still hold the field, the battle continues, with the armies first splitting if necessary to ensure that there are equal numbers on each side once more.
!! Strongholds In Battle When a stronghold is under attack, it has the following effect on the battle: * When calculating troop ratios to see who gets a bonus to their Battle Score, treat the defending armies as having four times as many troops as they actually have. * The defender only takes half the indicated casualties. * The defender ignores “Retreat” or “Rout” results. The defender only gets these bonuses if they use the “Hold” tactic. If an attacker chooses to besiege the stronghold instead of attacking, the attacker gains a +5 cumulative bonus to their Battle Score per week of siege, and if the defenders run out of food they will take 10% casualties per week of siege. The besieged defenders can, of course, attack the sieging army at any time using any tactic except “Hold”. If they choose to do so, they gain a +20 bonus to their Battle Score for the element of surprise.
Credit: This section contains material converted from
Darker Dungeons fantasy RPG released under the OGL and placed in the public domain.##