Narrative Mass Combat Rules

Most Fantasy/Neo-Medieval game settings offer guidelines for running fairly realistic mass combat encounters. Unless your players are avid tacticians or war-gammers, however, these rules for individual unit size, attributes, and engagements can get unwieldy fast. Here is a new take on mass combat with some rules to keep things quick, clean, but equally chaotic!

In the majority of mass combats, your party will be tasked with more precise objectives than simply “Victory by Attrition!” – gain the high-ground, sabotage the siege equipment, sap the drain, confront the field commander, interrupt the supply train, etc. With these goals in mind, it can often be unnecessary to play through each tactical movement and action taken by dozens of blocks of units around your players. Instead, you can treat the battlefield atmospherically and leave tactical command to the Commanders! Once outside the wire, have your players roll a dice before every action they take to determine if they are victim to an ambient battlefield danger. This will maintain a much more rapid pace for your party to pursue their own objectives while still representing the chaos and danger of battle!

Option One:
Each round spent on the battlefield is immediately threatening. Players roll 1d6 before each action to determine which ambient threat they are confronted with. Players still make the appropriate defense roll/calculation to determine if they are hit by this threat.

1 – Shove

2 – Trip

3 – Melee Attack

4 – Melee Attack

5 – Ranged Attack

6 – Nearby Siege Attack

Option Two:
Not every round is threatening, but threats will often blind-side combatants. Players roll 1d100 before each action to determine which ambient threat they are affected by. Rolled threats strike players automatically – the result of “Nothing” (1-45) indicates the steady barrage of threats successfully blocked/evaded.

1-45% – Nothing

45-59% – Shove

60-69% – Trip

70-85% – Melee Hit

86-95% – Ranged Hit

96-100% – Siege Hit

Depending on your setting, you may need to add/change these result outcomes to better reflect your battlefield. But using this “one-roll” method is guaranteed to speed up the narrative pace of your mass combats and let your players focus on the tasks at hand!

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