Monday, August 24, 2009

B/X Companion: Mass Combat Complete

For the most part, anyway. It's four pages right now (the formatting needs to be finalized) and I need to add a table, but I think I've captured all the rules I want to incorporate into my B/X Companion for mass combat.

Looking back at Mentzer, I see that his War Machine system was six pages long, not counting the additional siege rules added in the Master set.  I explained earlier what I was looking for in a mass combat system and I think I got it all captured, though I was hoping to get it completed in two pages, not four. Ugh...well, I'll just have to trim down other areas (or adjust the formatting more).

Let me run down my check list real quick:

Does luck matter? Yes.
Does strategy matter? Yes.
Do tactics matter? Yes (with regard to unit use).
Do numbers matter? Yes (depending on the types of unit).
Do the commander's Int, Wis, and Cha matter? Charisma definitely; Int and Wis sometimes.
Does AC and type of weapon matter? Yes.
Do mounts (or lack thereof) matter? Yes.
Does Morale matter? Absolutely.
Do different merc types make a difference? Yes (should make a note about orc/goblin penalties probably for ease of reference).
Is PC heroic action important? Yes.
Can it be run with miniatures or without? Yes.
Does it differ enormously from normal B/X combat? No.
Does it require a bunch of lists of bonuses and penalties? No.

Hmmm...pretty much everything I was looking for, still with plenty of room for DM arbitration and house rules.  Good, good.

I should probably get someone to review this for me and see if it makes sense to someone else's eyes. Any B/X players out there want to volunteer?

: )


  1. Well, I'm 100% unfamiliar with War Machine, have a lot of free time in my hands and I'm on a B/X high right now.

    If this sounds like a curriculum you are looking for in a reviwer I'll be happy to go over what you've done (from a purely theoretical POV since I don't have anyone to play with at the moment)

  2. I have been looking for something like this all my life! I would be happy to run through some scenarios I have, and give you feedback and impressions

    Drop me a line at makofan at yahoo dot com

  3. Congrats, I can't wait to see this.

    Again, my only question is if you included a mechanic to make Fighters better military leaders than magic users or thieves? I can see Clerics being on nearly the same level, but I would definitely prefer to see a system that makes Fighters the natural leaders of men, especially if the system occasionally rewards high mental stats (which are not the strength of the average fighter).

  4. @ Dyson:

    When it comes to commanding troops in battle, there is no inherent benefit for having a strong arm or knowing how to wear and best utilize plate mail armor. Presence, force of personality, and courage ARE of benefit when leading folks in battle, as is good strategy and smart tactics.

    All “adventurers” have presence of mind and coolness under fire capabilities. Just because a fighter is trained to strike hard and fast in melee, doesn’t mean he has more wit in the swirling chaos of battle than a magic-user who wrests control of magic from the fabric of the universe, clerics who commune directly with the heavens, or thieves who face death itself every time they stoop to disarm a poisoned trap.

    Being a fighter does not automatically make a character a leader of men. I have written no bonus to mass combat for being a fighter.

    In addition, in a fantasy game, where either or both sides may be controlling units of magical creatures, undead, or constructs, who’s to say a fighter’s mundane combat training will be any help at all either in utilizing strange units or defending against the tactics of the same?

    There is room for DMs to utilize their own modifiers in combat. If a veteran warlord commanding only footmen, cavalry, and archers meets a magic-user likewise using only mundane troops (say, orcs and ogres), the DM could certainly give a bonus to the fighter’s force if it seemed appropriate. But I leave that up to the individual DM.

    In B/X terms, Elric was a magic-user, Joan of Arc was a cleric, and Conan may well have been a thief (though one with an 18 Strength and Constitution). All were great leaders of men in battle. NOT every fighter is Julius Caesar, Napoleon, or Patton.

  5. Cool. I was just hoping to see an ability for the fighter class at higher levels that wasn't overwhelmed by the insane powers of clerics and magic-users at those levels.

  6. Ah, ha! Well rest assured that a high-level fighter taking the field of battle against a high-level cleric or wizard is still going to get his (or her) licks under my Mass Combat rules. Unlike Mentzer’s War Machine, your commanding officer is PROBABLY going to want to be wearing as much armor as possible.
    ; )

    That being said, a ring of spell turning is useful for fighters at ANY level.

    @ Everyone: this post was a little premature; turns out I missed at least TWO things (setting spears and XP gain) from my Mass Combat section. A little more polish is needed!