View Full Version : Mass Combat Homebrew (PEACH)

2014-01-25, 10:47 PM
A group of my friends and I have been playing D&D for a long time, and every campaign we inevitably come across the desire to wage a large battle or two. In this quest, we have tried several different Mass Combat rule sets, both official and homebrew, but we have never been completely satisfied. Many are either too complicated or too cumbersome. We wanted something simple and easy to learn, but at the same time, still be able to capture the essence of large scale warfare. I ultimately set out to make my own system with their help. We have play tested this system several times, each time making some changes, and we think it works well. I would like some more input. What can I change to make it better? Is a rule confusing? Is there a loop-hole I am missing? So if you like it tell me why, and if you don't like it or something about it, tell me what I can change. I really appreciate all input. If you would like a word version of this, let me know and I will happily email you one. (PS sorry about the tables for some reason I can not get the formatting right). So without further ado..........

Units and Troops and Blocks
Troops are a numerical representation for a large group of people. Each troop has its own modifiers, movement and abilities. Troops are organized into units.

Units are groups of the same type of troops and can be any size. Units cannot be made of a group of different troops.
For Example:
A unit can be made up of 5 fighter troops but not be made up of 3 fighter troops and 2 barbarian troops.
A unit occupies 1 block regardless of size.

Blocks are 1 inch by 1 inch grids on an overall grid map. One block is one 1" by 1" square on the grid. (Having a dry erase board that is divided into 1" by 1" squares will be necessary in using this rule set). Unlike traditional Dungeons and Dragons blocks do not represent a 5' by 5' area but instead represent an arbitrary and undefined size. This is due to the fact that large armies and structures would be difficult to represent on such a scale. (Also note that rounds do not represent the traditional 6 second interval but instead also represent and undefined length of time).

Combat is done using modified Risk rules. Units attack each other by rolling d20s, adding appropriate modifiers and comparing results. Attacking units can roll 1 dice per troop in their unit, with a maximum of 3 dice. Defending units can roll 1 dice per troop in their unit, with a maximum of 2 dice. Units do not have to attack or defend with their full dice amounts if they do not wish to. After the dice are rolled, add appropriate modifiers, and match up the highest dice rolls for both the attacking and defending units. The lowest number loses the fight and loses one unit for each losing result. Ties always go in favor of the defending unit.
For Example:
A unit of 5 fighters attacks a unit of 3 fighters. The attacking unit rolls 3 d20s and the defending unit rolls 2 d20's. The attacking unit (after modifiers) has a 20, 15, and 10. The defending unit (after modifiers) has a 19 and 15. Then the attacking unit's 20 is compared to the defending units 19 and the attacking units 15 is paired with the defending units 15. The attacking 20 beats the defending 19 and the defending 15 beats the attacking 15. Thus, both units lose 1 troop.
Note that the above example is considered to be one set of attacks.

Each unit has an attack action as well as a movement action. Actions can be used in any order but cannot be mixed; for example, a unit can attack then move or move than attack, but not move, attack, and then continue to move.
During a unit's move action, they can move a distance equal to or less than their maximum movement. Units may move through other allied spaces, but they cannot share spaces with other allies, nor may they move through enemy spaces. Most blocks counts on a 1 for 1 basis, meaning each block counts as 1 space of movement. However, some blocks are considered difficult terrain. Each block of difficult terrain is considered two blocks of movement. If a unit does not have enough movement left to move into difficult terrain they must stop outside the terrain.
For Example:
A unit of barbarians has a movement of 4 blocks. During their turn they move 2 blocks forward. One block is normal terrain and the other block is difficult terrain. The normal block counts as 1 block of movement, and the difficult terrain block counts as 2 blocks of movement. Hence, they can only move one more block. The unit could move into a normal terrain block but not into a block of difficult terrain.
Difficult terrain can be defined as rough or uneven ground, a stream, rubble, etc.

During a unit's attack action, the unit designates one enemy unit as its attack target within its range. The attacking and defending units then attack each other in the method described above. The attacking unit can repeat this process against the defending unit as many times as it wishes, but may not attack any other units than the one it first designated. During the units next turn, it may change its attack target.
For Example:
The same unit of 5 fighters from above attacks the same unit of 3 fighters from above. After their first round of combat they both lost 1 unit. The unit of now 4 fighters decides to attack the unit of 2 defenders. The attacking unit rolls 3 dice, and the defending unit rolls 2 dice. After comparing, the attacking unit ends up losing 2 units, reducing them to 2 fighters. They decide to attack again, though now they can only roll 2 dice instead of 3, since they no longer have at least three units. After comparing, both units lose another unit. The attacking unit, now reduced to a solitary fighter, decides to end its attack, leaving both the offensive and defensive units with one troop. Note that the attacking unit only attacks one enemy unit.

Finally, both teams take turns moving and attacking with their units. On any given armies' turn, each unit can take a move action and an attack action. This is repeated until one army is defeated or retreats.

Note that unlike Risk rules, units do not have to move into defeated enemy units squares, nor leave units behind in blocks. Units may also still attack even if they are reduced to a solitary unit. The leaders of both armies make an opposed leadership check in order to see who will take the first turn. A leadership check is 1d20 plus the leaders' leadership score from the leadership feat. In the case that the leader does not possess the leadership feat, simply roll 1d20.

Number of Units, Deployment, and Leadership
Armies are generally headed by powerful leaders; the size of an army is largely determined by how influential its leader is. Each leader has a number of points equal to their converted leadership score to spend on troops. To calculate a leader's converted leadership score, total up the number of followers he or she has and multiply it by the followers respectable level.
For Example:
If a general has 10 level 1 followers, 5 level 2 followers, and 1 level 3 follower, then his converted leadership score equals 23 points (10*1 + 5*2 + 3*1).
These points are used to purchase units off the chart in the following section. Note that if, for some reason, a person possesses an army but does not have the leadership feat, calculate his converted leadership score as if he possessed the feat then half the total result.

When battle starts, draw two lines across the board. These lines will represent the points where both armies can place their troops. An army will not be able to place units past its respective line, but may place its units at any point behind that line. Each battlefield will have different ideal lines. Once this line is drawn, it is considered permanent for the battle and cannot change.
For Example:
If an army controls a fort, a good place for that army's line would be the edge of the outer wall. In other words, the army would not be able to place troops beyond its wall, but could place them inside the fort or along the walls.

At the beginning of a battle, both armies are allowed to field up to half of their total converted leadership score worth of troops. An army is not required to field this amount if they do not wish to, and the rest of the troops are left in reserve with the other half of their points; this pool is known as their reserve points. Leaders take turns placing one unit on the board at a time until both leaders have placed all available troops or all the troops they wish to. Size and type of units do not have to be decided until they are placed onto the board. In other words, leaders do not have to decide what their armies consist of before they start placing them on the board. The leaders of both armies roll opposing leadership checks (1d20 + their leadership score or 1d20 in the case they do not possess the leadership feat) to determine who will go first. Note that this is a separate check from who will take the first turn.

Beginning on the start of an army's second turn and every turn after, they can begin to place reinforcements if they wish. The number of reinforcement points that are available to spend is equal to the number of units an army currently has on the board. These points can be spent on any type of troops and can be placed in any number of units. These points are deducted from their reserve points. A army cannot get more points in reinforcements than they have left in reserve points. Reinforcements must be placed at or behind the army's line and must be placed at the begging of the turn before any other units move or attack.
For Example:
At the start of an army's second turn they control 15 units and have 29 reserve points. Because they control 15 units they are allowed to place an 15 points worth of troops on the board behind their line (reinforcement points). They now have 14 points in reserve (14 = 29 - 15). At the start of their third turn they now control 16 units and are allowed to place 16 points worth of troops on the board however they only have 14 points in reserve so instead they only place 14 points worth of troops and are not entitled to any further reinforcements.
It is important to note that reinforcement points and reserve points are not the same thing. To clarify, reserve points is a numerical representation of how many troops an army has left to place on the board in future turns, while reinforcements points is how many points an army is entitled to put on the board on a given turn. An army maybe able to deploy extra troops but not more than their reserve if they control a structure, see Structures and Defenses section below.

Types of Units
There are several types of troops available, each with their own statistics. Units are characterized by several attributes:
Attack Bonus - Troops add this attribute to all Attack Rolls they make.
Defense Bonus - Troops add this attribute to all Defense Rolls they make.
Movement - This is the maximum number of blocks a troop can move during their turn.
Cost - This is how many points this troop costs.
Range - This is how far a unit can attack, see Range Section below.
Special - This details if the given unit has any special abilities.

Squad Type Movement Range Att. Bonus Def. Bonus Special Cost
Fighter 3 Blocks 1 1 1 - 1
Mage 2 Blocks 1-2 2 0 Buff Allies 2
Archer 3 Blocks 2-7 1 0 - 2
Barbarian 4 Blocks 1 2 1 Rage 2
Cleric 3 Blocks 1-2 1 2 Revive 2
Mounted 8 Blocks 1 1 1 Run-By-Attack 2
Shielded 2 Blocks 1 0 2 Protection 2
Ram 1 Blocks 1 0 0 Battering 3
Catapult 1 Blocks 10-25 3 0 Ignore Height 3
Stealth 3 Blocks 1 1 0 Stealth Spawn 4

Buff Allies +2 to the Attack and Defense Bonus of all adjacent allied units.
Rage This ability can be triggered at any time, but once it begins, it cannot be stopped. +2 on all Attack Rolls and -1 on all Defensive Rolls until end of battle. Unit must attack closest enemy unit and cannot stop attacking until either the enemy troop or barbarian unit is defeated.
Revive Once per round, a unit of clerics can heal an allied unit 1d4 troops. The unit must be no more than 5 blocks away and the troops must not have died more than 1 round previously. This ability cannot heal a unit more troops than it had originally at the previous round. This ability can revive a unit that was completely removed from the board subject to the previous restriction. The revived unit appears in the same block it was removed from. A unit cannot be revived in this manner if the block it was removed from is now occupied by another unit.
Run-By-Attack - Mounted Units may move, attack, and move again. Their total movement still may not exceed their max movement.
Protection - When being attacked by an enemy unit, that enemy unit may not make multiple attacks against this unit during the same round but instead may only make one set (max 3 dice) of attacks.
Battering - This unit automatically inflicts damage against a structure without having to roll attacks. Instead it inflicts 1 damage for each dice it would be entitled to roll. This unit may not attack non structure targets but may defend itself as normal. Immune to archer attacks.
Ignore Height Catapults only count horizontal distance when calculating range. Furthermore, a catapult can only make 1 set of attack rolls against 1 target per round.
Stealth Spawn - This unit can be placed anywhere on the battle field and is not restricted to being placed behind the army's line. For the first turn this unit is on the board it gains +2 attack bonus. This bonus only lasts for 1 round.

Range is a very important attribute of troops. Attack range of 1 allows to attack a unit that is adjacent, while longer ranges allow a unit to attack more blocks away. If a unit attacks an enemy unit from a range that exceeds the enemy unit's range, then the enemy unit rolls defense rolls as normal but cannot inflict casualties on failed attacks rolls.
For Example:
A unit of 3 mages attacks a unit of 2 fighters from 2 blocks away. The mages roll 3 dice and, after modifiers, they have a 20, 15, and 10. The fighters roll 2 dice and, after modifiers, they have a 15 and 16. Normally both units would lose 1 troop but since the fighters have a shorter range, only the fighters will lose 1 troop.
Note that in most cases, due to infinite attacks against one enemy unit, that when a unit attacks an enemy unit at a range greater than the enemy's units (like in the example above) this will result in the enemy unit being instantly killed (since the attacking unit can keep attacking without fear of losing any of their own troops). This also works when a melee character attacks a unit with a minimum attack range i.e. Archer and Catapults. This is an intended mechanic.
Keep in mind that vertical distance also plays a role when attacking. Most walls are 2-3 blocks tall.
For Example:
If unit of Archers is attacking from a wall 3 blocks tall they can only hit enemy units that are up to 4 blocks away from the wall.

Structures and Defenses
War does not always occur in open fields between two clashing armies. Forts, castles, city walls, and bunkers, among other things, also play a role in mass combat. Structures have several effects on a battle depending on their size. The chart below details how many blocks each size category of structure typically is.

Structures often provide tactical advantages to units using them. When a unit is attacked from or attacking from a structure they gain a +2 to their attack and defense.

Structures also allow an army to deploy its troops faster during its reinforcement stage. An army gains bonus reinforcements each round for each structure it controls. The bonus reinforcements do not add extra points to its reserve points but instead allow the army to deploy those reserves faster. To be in control of structure there must be no enemies present inside or on the structure and the structure must not be broken. Note that in the case of larger structures like forts broken gates/doors do not count as the structure being broken. The amount of bonus reinforcements is based on the size of the structure (see table below).

Structures also have a point total of their own called structure points. The amount of structure points a given structure has is based on its size, as detailed below. These structure points can be used in a variety of ways from increasing the hp of the structure to purchasing oil or traps, see chart below.

Structures can be attacked and destroyed just like other units. Structures have a base Hp of 1 that can be further upgraded by spending structure points. When upgrading the Hp of larger structure, like forts, treat the gate and wall as if they were separate structures for the purpose of upgrading their Hp, i.e. gates and walls have separate Hp values (in the general case, the wall should have at least twice the Hp of the gate and no more than half of structure points should be spent on Hp upgrades, exceptions may apply). When another unit makes an attack against a structure they must make an attack against DC Current HP+1. If they exceed this DC they inflict 1 damage for each attack roll where they exceeded the DC. Attacking units may only attack a structure with one set of attacks per round. Note that a rolling a natural 20 on the attack dice will automatically inflict 1 damage even if the total does not exceeded the DC.

When a structures current HP equals 0, the structure is considered broken. The structure is then removed from the board, leaving behind only difficult terrain. Units inside or on the structure are also removed from the board as they are either trapped in the wreckage or outright killed. In the case of Huge or larger structures, reducing the structure's HP to 0 does not necessarily destroy the entire structure. Huge or larger structures should be divided into 16 blocks substructures (size category large). Substructures do not have to be exactly 16 blocks but must be made up of 16 to 31 blocks and each substructure should be about equal in size. Each substructure possess HP equal to the total HP of the overall structure. When a given substructure's HP equals 0, that substructure is removed from the board in the manner stated above but other substructures are unaffected. A structure continues to give full bonus reinforcement points until all substructures are destroyed.
For Example:
A Huge Building, made up of 33 blocks, has HP 17. The building is divided into two substructures, a right wing (16 blocks) and a left wing (17 blocks). Both the right wing and the left wing have HP 17. If the right wing is reduced to 0 HP, the right wing collapses and is removed from the board along with any units present in the right wing, leaving behind difficult terrain in its former 16 blocks. The left wing is unaffected by this and the structures continues to provide 8 bonus reinforcement points every round.

Size Number of Blocks (Minimum) Bonus Reinforcements Structure Points
Small 4 +1 4
Medium 8 +2 8
Large 16 +4 16
Huge 32 +8 32
Gargantuan 64 +16 64
Colossal 128 +32 128
Colossal+ 256 +64 256

Item Cost Effect
Health 1 pt Hp of Structure Increases by 1
Hot Oil 1 pt Gain 1 Use of Hot Oil
Traps 1 pt 1 Block becomes Trapped
Catapult 3 pt Structure Gains an Catapult
Difficult Terrain 1 pt 5 Blocks Become Difficult Terrain

Hot Oil - Must be used next to a wall, hits a 2 block by 2 block area in front of the wall. Any units in this area has 3 attacks rolls made against it with a +3 modifier. Defense rolls are rolled as normal with casualties inflicted only against the defending team. Oil is a one time use that can only be used on attacking units turns. You may purchase multiple uses of oil and use more than one at a time.
For Example:
On Army A's turn they decide to use one of their uses of hot oil. They chose a 2 blocks by 2 blocks square next to their city wall. There are 2 units present in this square. Both units get 3 attack rolls made against them with +3 being added to each d20. The defending unit rolls 2 defense rolls adding there normal defense modifier. The first unit loses both rolls and loses two troops and the second unit loses one roll and wins the other, thus only losing one troop.

Traps - Chose 1 Block it becomes trapped. If an enemy (or allied) unit moves into that block 3 attack rolls are made against it with a +3 modifier. Defense rolls are rolled as normal with casualties inflicted only against the defending team.

Difficult Terrain - 5 Blocks become difficult terrain. Each block of difficult terrain counts as 2 blocks for the purpose of movement as normal. The blocks do not have to be adjacent. Motes around Large Structures could be an example of this.

Combining and Splitting Units
Units already on the board can be combined into one larger unit. To accomplish this, one unit must move into the square of another unit. Neither unit can have taken an attack action this round; the two separate units than combine into one larger unit. The new unit cannot take another move action but may attack as normal. Only two units of the same troop type may combine.

One unit may split into multiple smaller units. The unit may not have taken a move action before it splits. Split units appear adjacent to the original unit. If there is not an open space adjacent to the unit, it may not split until an adjacent space is open. The original and split units may move as normal but may not take an attack action the same round they split.

A unit may not split and combine during the same turn.

A army starts with a Morale Score equal to the leadership score of its leader or half the leader's leadership score, in the case that the leader does not possess the leadership feat. Every time a unit is completely destroyed and is removed from the board, the army's Morale Score is decreased by one. When the Morale Score decreases to 0 the leader must make an immediate leadership check (1d20 + leadership score or 1d20 in the case the leader does not possess the leadership feat) against DC 10 + number of enemy units on the board. If the check succeeds the army continues to fight as normal. If the check fails the army begins to retreat at full speed towards the closest exit or way off the board. After the initial check the leader must make this check again at the beginning of each of his army's turns in order to stop his troops from retreating.
A leader may willingly order a retreat at any time.

Some armies cannot or will not retreat. Such armies are immune to this Morale rule. It is up to the DM to decide wether or not an army is effected by morale. It is also possible that an army will have either a lower or higher Morale Score than the general rule due to extreme circumstances. This too is up to the DM to decide.

An army that is being attacked from two sides is considered flanked; the flanking army gets +1 to all attack rolls made by its units. Furthermore a unit is considered flanked if it is being attacked from two sides, and the attacking units get +1 to their attack rolls against the flanked unit. The bonus for flanking stacks (i.e. attacks made against a unit being attacked from two sides that is part of an army being attacked from two sides) are made with a +2 bonus.

PC's and Mass Combat
Not every general will be content on the side lines. Sometimes PC's or Powerful NPC's will want to get involved directly in the battle. When a PC or NPC enters the field, choose a base troop type. The PC gains all abilities and attributes of that troop type. Furthermore, all PC or NPCs get +2 Attack and Defense modifiers as well as a +1 Movement. Individual PCs or NPCs also count as a number of troops equal to their Hit Dice.
For Example
If a level 12 Fighter PC wishes to fight in the battle. He would be based on the fighter troop type and would be treated as a Unit of 12 Fighters with 4 blocks of movement, +3 Attack Bonus, +3 Defense Bonus and a Range of 1.

PCs are more unique than your average solider and, as such, should be given a unique ability that is suited for them. These abilities should not be much more powerful than the basic units' abilities, but should be suitably effective. These abilities must be decided on a case-by-case basis and will require DM approval.

Fighting next to a leader PC can be an extremely potent motivational factor for the overall effectiveness and morale of allied troops. As such, any allied unit next to a Leader PC or NPC gains +2 Attack and Defense Modifiers.

Unlike normal units, PC's may share squares with other allied units since they represent a single person instead of whole squads of people. While sharing spaces with another unit, a PC unit can not be the target of enemy attacks. However, if the PC attacks an enemy unit, that enemy unit can defend and inflict casualties as normal. Furthermore, a PC can be healed by a cleric's revive ability up to their Hit Dice, even if the damage occurred before the previous round.
Finally, if a Leader PC or NPC is killed during the battle, their army immediately falls back in full retreat barring unusual circumstances. (DM's Call)

Customization and Player Tactics
Sometimes players or armies will have clever strategies or ideas that these options and rules cannot represent on the board. Special care should be taken into fitting player ideas into a battle. As a general rule, when an army wishes to use such a tactic or unusual strategy, they should spend an appropriate amount of resources in the the form of their army points. Furthermore, player ideas should be practical, realistic, and justifiable, keeping in mind that units represent hundreds of people and giving them extra abilities or magical enchantments is not a simple task. Ultimately, it is the DM's decisions as to whether an idea is possible and what an appropriate cost of such an ability is.
For Example:
An army has a large group of mages that all know the spider climb spell. The army decides that it wants to cast spider climb on its soldiers so they can climb the city wall instead of trying to break down the gate. This ability is both realistic and justifiable, but the current rule system does not have a mechanic for it. Thus, the DM decides that each troop enchanted with spider climb will cost one additional point, so a fighter with spider climb will cost 2 points instead of 1, and that each enchanted unit may walk up vertical walls as if they were normal terrain.
Many other examples of this type of circumstance exist, and they will inevitably come up. The DM should make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Representing Structures, Units, and the Board
As mentioned earlier, a dry erase boarded divided into 1'' by 1'' grid blocks is necessary to play this system (we personally use a dry erase magnetic board that is made by Dark Platypus, who can be found on eBay). Structures are often drawn onto the board with black dry erase markers, and army lines are drawn in blue. Red Xs on blocks are used to denote the location of traps.
D-Percentiles are generally placed on or near structures to help keep track of individual structure Hp. D-Percentiles are also used to keep track of an armies current Morale Score. In addition, d10s can be used to note how many uses of oil an army currently has. Lastly D20's are often used to keep track of a PC's location on the board, where the number of the D20 represents the current health of the PC.
Keeping track of units for both armies can be difficult and complicated, especially when both armies are large. It is highly recommended that you use some sort of color coded mini poker chip to denote armies (Koplow makes very nice mini poker chips in a variety of colors). For example, you could use two colors of poker chips to distinguish what units belong to which army. Furthermore, the poker chips can be stacked to indicate the number of troops, and the top chip can be labeled to show what type of troops the unit consists of. It is a good idea to have several chips pre-labeled with each unit types. (Both sides of each chip can be labeled with different units types. Every chip can be labeled thusly and then the unit is just made up of troops denoted by the top most chip on the stack. This will allow for maximum flexibility with as few chips as possible.) Finally it is also a good idea to have a few alternate color chips to denote a higher number of troops.
For Example:
White chips count as 5 troops. So if you have an orange chip for one army, you could place 1 orange token labeled fighter on top of 1 white token to represent a unit of 6 fighters for the orange army.
Using these chips in this manner will allow both armies to use the same higher valued chips without confusion. This will also serve to decrease stack sizes and total chips needed.