View Full Version : Large Scale Battles

2009-05-19, 02:58 PM
Well, I am running a D&D 4 campaign, and at some points, player will get in a big scale battle. Though 4e is much swift in battles than 3.5, in my opinion, a battle with hundrerds of men will still be running slowly and boring. So I had to come up with a few solutions myself, here's what I've got:

-D&D Miniatures seems like a good choice,if I actually didn't want my players to be commanders but themselves. However, as an already fleshed out system, that will be at my disposal.

-With a little work, I think I can create a system of my own; Heroes of Might and Magic style! For example, the player battles with an infantry, if he can get his head, he rolls a d20, and there goes 1d20 units of that kind! Plus, every turn the DM would roll a d30 or something, to determine how many people of each side have died that turn, save the ones the players battle.

The last one sounds nice, but I think I will face severe inequality, I mean, playes side gets 1d30+1d20 -or [insert player number]d20, if they all attack different units- kills, whilst the other side can only kill 30 per round! This doesn't sound right, if you put in mind that the heroes are only level three!

So, if you have any neat ideas in that witty-cunning-superlarge brains of yours, I'm all for them! Thanks!

2009-05-19, 03:12 PM
Check out Heroes of Battle? They sugggest breaking combat into manageable chunks, but most of what occurs is based on Victory Points, which are accumulated by doing things like finding terrain that benefits you, taking out enemy communications/siege engines, etc.

2009-05-19, 03:13 PM
There are two main ways of handling Large Scale battles:
1) Focus on the players effects on the Battle (by being a special strike team) or
2) Allow Players to command battalions. Have Battalions as statted swarm creatures. Allow players to equip their character to a battalion and in the process give it some bonuses.

These are easy to make and run, and probably some of the best ways of handling it.

2009-05-19, 04:12 PM
I agree with Epinephrine, go with Heroes of Battle suggestions. That is, if the PC's are on one side, the other side will have equally powerful opponents for them to face. Pit them against each other, with the outcome of the battle as a whole pre-determined, but in such a way that actions by the PC's can still influence the tide of battle. Most of the fighting comes down to you saying every three or four rounds "Looks good for you guys" or "enemy cavalry just attacked about a quarter-mile south," with you determining ahead of time the relative strength of each side and how each skirmish will pan out. With hundreds of people on each side, it basically comes down to averages for each side until the PC's intervene.

Alternatively, don't have them involved in the heavy fighting at all. They're supposed to assassinate the enemy commander during the battle; even if the battle is lost, without a commander they'll be disorganized or infighting within minutes of the battle's end.

2009-05-19, 05:23 PM
I want my players to be in battle, not like a commander or as a part of a strike team, unless they want to, but these to may work out as well.

Heroes of Battle looks like an item, I'll research into it. I'll let you know when I get my eyes on it.

But if you still have any ideas, don't hesitate and spit it here! :)

2009-05-19, 05:58 PM
If you got a lot of time on your hands, read all 6 articles:


AND now the fun part: You will have to go through the steps he outlined there to completely re-create it for 4th edition. However, once done it should serve you and your group for years to come.

2009-05-19, 08:32 PM
I've run a fair amount of battles that, while not huge in scale, were large. Basically, I give each unit their attack roll + the leader's cha mod + their attack bonus. Assume a 50% hit chance if the attack = the AC. For every 1 over the target AC, another 5% hit. For every under, 5% more miss. In any case, a natural 20 implies all the unit hit, a natural 1 implies the whole unit misses. Otherwise, at least 5% but no more than 95% of the unit hits. This can get ridiculous if you use VERY large battles, but keeping it to smallish units of no more than 50, it seems to work very well. Give each unit a common dice pool of hp based on how much each soldier has. Leaders have separate hit points, and, generally, allow leaders to attack other leaders, or leaders to attack units. Try to avoid having units attacking leaders with melee, as it usually doesn't make sense for the leader to wade into a unit until the battle appears won. As for missle fire, avoid the whole unit targetting the leader because its physically impossible.

The mechanic is less important than the logic, remember, especially in mass combat. Hope this helps, my players with the epic leadership feats loved having mass combat using these rules, and I do mean loved it. I believe I called the roll "attacker efficiency". I've heard that my rules are similar to something printed somewhere, but I am not sure.

Edit: This is for 3.5. Or 1st. Or 2nd. As for 4e, eh. The game doesn't lend itself to this. But you could still use it, I suppose, there's just a heck of a lot more going on.

2009-05-19, 09:55 PM
I agree with Gralamin. You generally do not want to get into statistics minutiae unless absolutely necessary. Generally, you either want to just run it like your normal PC adventure except you focus the PCs effect on the battle through victory points (i.e. when they're a strike team or field commanders rather than actually commanding the battle themselves) or you want to just do an aggregated abstracted thing where you just use HP for the groups cohesion. after all, once battles get to a large enough scale, the actual individual troops themselves will matter less and less.