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Thread: massive battles

  1. #1

    massive battles

    how do i resolve massive battles that include player characters?

    EG...

    players arrive at a scene where a large scale battle has taken place. there are about 100 casualties on each side. fighting has centered around a bridge. bodies every where! lol surviving forces are gathering defenses, as another attack is immanent.

    there are approx. 75 swordsmen and 20 archers left of the friendly forces, and the enemy forces has an equivalent number. i can not see running a battle that large.

    options?

  2. #2
    You wouldn't want to run a battle that big in Fantasy Grounds. For something like that you would want to use a mass combat system like War Law instead since it is designed for combats like that. You could also just decide the outcome or have the PCs make skill rolls to determine the final outcome. I would also have the PCs fight some of the enemy but a more manageable number so they have a chance to survive. Try not to outnumber the PCs when playing RM because you will wipe them out quickly.

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  3. #3
    I've run several 'mass' (by mass I mean circa 25npcs in play at one time against 5 PCs) combat sessions on FGU and the issue is down time for PCs as the GM cycles through all the NPC attacks/Movement.

    My end of campaign session is defending a fort against 1000ish mixed foes - cavalry and infantry. I've decided to use a tweaked Pendragon skirmish/battle system. Pendragon has a nice simple table for assessing combat casualties based on quality of troops and leadership skill.

    I use one token for each battle formation (infantry unit etc) and then a random table to generate a PC specific encounter if they engage that battle formation (ideally, not on their own!)

    The battle could be played out in a third person narrative and just use random battle field encounters to spice things up but I like the possibility of the PCs leading combat units and being responsible for their fate.

    Hope that helps - Rainbird
    Last edited by Rainbird; January 11th, 2022 at 22:01.

  4. #4
    JohnD's Avatar
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    Use placeables on your map to illustrate a battle in progress - bodies, debris, scorch marks, etc....

    FGU will clog down with anything approaching a decent number of combatants in the CT. In FGC I routinely had 8 PCs, 12 Friendly NPCs and 40+ NPCs in the CT and spread across multiple maps for something like this, with no issue. FGU currently can't handle more than a fraction of that.
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  5. #5
    JD, that's not my experience. I'm using FGU and it cycles through 40+ on the CT no problem.

    My last combat had 47 in the CT.

    I've never used FGC, so can't comment on it.

  6. #6
    For sure you can make large scale combats work. I've done so in my live SW5e campaign with my players running a handful of NPCs each running through a 4 level ship with about 50 (non controlled crew NPCs) and a 25 NPC boarding party controlled by another player. It can be done - you just need to write your own extensions to do it. This less than quality video shows a different D&D 5e village with all NPCs and no PCs where as DM I do nothing and just watch the players duke it out. Gist is - it can be done - just not in normal FGU.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHOex26Vjic
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Immelmann View Post
    how do i resolve massive battles that include player characters?

    EG...

    players arrive at a scene where a large scale battle has taken place. there are about 100 casualties on each side. fighting has centered around a bridge. bodies every where! lol surviving forces are gathering defenses, as another attack is immanent.

    there are approx. 75 swordsmen and 20 archers left of the friendly forces, and the enemy forces has an equivalent number. i can not see running a battle that large.

    options?
    For 5e there is a mass combat tracker on the forge. uses Unearthed Aracana rules.

  8. #8
    One way I've done this is to set up NPC tokens that represent 10-15 units of a type - just give them the right hit point totals and a name that tracks the count at start and current. Depending on the scenario I might also include tokens on the map that are not tied to the Combat Tracker so things don't bog down and just have the players tell me who they are attacking. When the opponents are behind arrow slits or otherwise concealed I only need the one super NPC on the map. Then I roll the short bow attack 10 times for a ten unit token. As damage occurs I just mark down the count of remaining active units in the token title. If I'm using the visible non-tied tokens I just drop D's (for dead) on top so the both the players and I can remember which are still active on the map.

    I don't worry too much about outnumbering them - if the level mix is right (low level goblins rather than highly-skilled lugroki for example) then a large force is a) intimidating b) a challenge because most attacks might miss but they add up c) call for clever spell use (like clouds of fog to reduce the incoming attacks due to lack of visibility) and d) allow for area of effect spells which delight my players to no end. It is great to see the team scurry for cover when told "You've been discovered! Wailing shrieks rise and ramparts swarm with goblins!"

    And then they spend the next few sessions chewing through them. Yes, by the end (with most of the enemy blinded, confused, and terrified of what is in their midst) some of the PC's have to be teleported away since they can't walk away...but what else is the Reputation option for...to reap a new rank as reward requires exploits worth talking about.

  9. #9
    QuirkyBirky's Avatar
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    There are probably lots of possible options, though War Law is the official ICE system (not sure if it's commercially available).

    From my youth I remember TSR's Battle System (for D&D) plus Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I'm pretty sure this question (or one similar) was asked on the ICE Discord late last year, but it might take a bit of finding.

    An actual method for using in Fantasy Grounds might be tricky. Best off running the PC's battle encounters separately and trying to determine how the battle plays out via their actions, or come up with some other method.

    D&D also had some rules for resolving mass combat in the old BECMI Companion rules. I think that was more about working out relative ratings and using formulae to determine the outcome, losses etc. (possibly similar to the Pendragon mechanics that Rainbird mentioned earlier, though its been years since I owned that).

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