View Full Version : Military games

2019-04-04, 05:27 PM
So Iím thinking about running a campaign starting in basic training and going all the way through to the characters being grizzled SpecOps types. Looking for advice on everything from the best system to use to tips and tricks to pulling it all off.

2019-04-04, 06:26 PM
What kind of setting are looking for? Real world? Modern? Historical? Fantasy? Sci-fi?

For the last one, I've found the sourcebook Starvation Cheap (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/158809/Starvation-Cheap-Military-Campaigns-for-Stars-Without-Number) for Stars Without Number to be a very good resource. It gives ideas about how to form ranks and formations and how to use artillery and other such advice; and has rules to come up with "Vital Points", or places that armies will fight over, obstacles to get in the way, and other such things to help come up with missions for PCs; and there's a sort of grand strategy war game, which involves deploying units to various battlefields, which could also probably be used along with a more tactical war game if needed by having the outcomes of the battle be determined by the tactical game, sort of like how PC missions effect it.

I suppose the rules could be used for modern warfare if you only used tech level 3 stuff (modern day) rather than the default tech level 4 (future stuff), or possibly earlier tech levels if needed. Also, the rules are system agnostic enough that you could probably use it even if you aren't running Stars Without Number. And it also has rules for running mercenary companies, in case you need that for any reason.

2019-04-04, 07:27 PM
If you are a fan of steampunk, Space 1889 can fit the bill. Although in the social system of the game it would probably work best as officers from different units working together on missions and/or private adventures than a group of squaddies.

The best part of a Victorian setting s that officers were put on half pay when not on campaign, and had the freedom to do whatever they pleased. Which gives you as DM a wide choice of mini campaigns. Also the British and French had world wide empires so you can send the players almost anywhere in the world. Just look up a list of the small wars both empires were involved in between 1850 and 1900. Plus in Space 1889 you have a Jules Verne inspired sci-fi environment. If youíve read the Flashman books youíll know just how wide a variety of campaigns you can give your players.

Also in a modern setting soldiers donít progress from basic training through to special ops together. After basic training soldiers are sent to different units based on their aptitudeís, and then to get into special forces they have to undergo special forces selection trials. During special forces trials soldiers from the same unit are split up to ensure an even competition between candidates.

2019-04-05, 12:57 AM
One of my more successful games involved military characters. But one thing I found was you can only hold players to rank structure so much. Basing the game on small independent groups that are connented to the larger military works better, much like the Stargate teams from SG1, or even the A-Team. The movie Predator is another example, as is The Expendables - although those are mercs. Even the Only War game allows the characters much more freedom than would normally be allowed.
One of the advantage of Rank is that one of the players can be responsible for making sure something happens, although making sure the player will not abuse this power is a seperate issue. Not one I had in that game, but one that could have been a problem in other groups. Now two of my players were vets, but I don't think that would change the general dislike of hardline rank structure in RPGs.

As for choice in games, almost any system can support a military style game, some do it better, but pick a system you like and it can work. One thing that most games have trouble with is heavy weapons (anti-tank weapons, artillery, etc), but easy rule is if you hit a person with one, they are dead.

Jay R
2019-04-05, 08:52 AM
For an occasional change-of-pace adventure in basic training, I recommend that you get a copy of a season of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. (60s era sitcom about life on a marine base) to find a light-hearted plot.

2019-04-06, 06:44 PM
Terminus V has a real crunchy, scalable depth that might be what you're looking for.

2019-04-06, 08:05 PM
How much real vertical scaling are you looking for? On a scale of, oh, D&D (zero to demigod) to Fate (get a bit more rounded, but not much stronger)?

2019-04-06, 10:32 PM
If you don't mind going "Old School" I'd recommend an old military rules set from GDW (now sold as a CD-ROM by Far Future Enterprises), Twilight2000. Twilight2000 is a lifepath system somewhat less complicated than Traveller but still fairly detailed. There are no levels or classes in the game, only a skill/professions system. The mechanic varies by edition and those include;

1st Edition. This is a very "skeletal" percentile system I really don't care for.

2nd Edition. This "evolution" of 1st edition is a roll under 1D10 system for skills (rated from 1 to 10) and is a better but somewhat limited edition.

V2.2 Edition is MY preferred Edition. It uses a roll under 1D20 system that is almost as intuitive as a percentile system is. You have a skill (rated from 1 to 10) and a characteristic (also rated from 1 to 10) that you combine together to get the Target Number that you must roll equal to or less than to succeed for an Average task. There are other modifiers that can come into play but most tasks will use this roll under a Skill + Characteristic system. The game is also very well written.

The only issue would be that it is really only available as a PDF or CD-ROM from Far Future Enterprises.

2019-04-08, 12:04 AM
For added realism, make sure to include the following downtime activities:

- Cleaning the barracks
- Cleaning your weapon
- Cleaning your gear
- Waiting for First Sergeant
- Having a cigarette
- Filling out paperwork
- Standing in line to do all of these things

This is like 90% of the military experience.