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Mass and Grand Scale Combat

Optional rules for military combat in D&D v3.5
or, alternatively: Bloody long article about military combat in D&D v3.5

Everybody likes a good fight. Most, if not all, role-playing games assume there will be a battle in the game. That is why they make combat rules. That is certainly the assumption in Dungeons & Dragons.

But the rules presented in most role-playing games assumes that the battles are small scaled (Exalted 2nd edition, published by White Wolf, deviates from this with Mass Combat Rules). So what happens when the battle is too large to fit on your battle mat? What will you do when your players have assembled an army to battle the hordes of the Abyss? Or to fight against anyone, really? Or when they have assembled several legions to conquer nearby land?

The rules presented below are optional house-rules for Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 and yet to be tested as this is written. I suggest that DMs who intend to use these rules read them over and modify them however they see fitting for their campaign. Think of this as a starting point from which you can go into any direction you see fitting. The Grand Scale Combat rules presented assume that you have also read the Political house-rules which I also wrote and presented. The GSC rules are made for games where the players are in control of a vast country and great military force. To give a small hint at how big that is supposed to be, each round in the Grand Scale Combat takes a week or even a month, depending on preferences, while the Mass Combat rules is one minute per round and normal combat only takes three seconds per round. That is huge, to say the least.

There are several terms that the Players (and DM) need to familiarize themselves with before they start using these rules. Think of this as new or different traits of the “army”.
  • Size – This is the size of the force under your control. To make this simple (or complicated, however you look at it) the force is measure in size similar to any single character, from Fine to Colossal.
    • Fine – A single character. Hardly a force, but still worth mentioning.
    • Diminutive – A small squad of soldiers, hardly more than 5.
    • Tiny – Approximately five squads of warriors, around 20-25 strong.
    • Small – About twice the size of Tiny, ca. 50 strong.
    • Medium – 100 warriors, ready and able.
    • Large – 400-500 warriors.
    • Huge – 900-1,000 soldiers, a force to be reckoned with.
    • Gargantuan – 1,500-1,600 soldiers.
    • Colossal – 2,000-2,500 strong ones
  • Drill – This is how well trained your force is. When changing formations, checking against routing or keeping your soldiers’ chins up, Drill is the trait you will be using.
  • Might – Battle is not won by numbers or training alone, but also the raw force of the army. Might is the damage you deal to the opposite force.
  • Formation – At any time during combat, an army can change formation with a move action. To do so, whoever is commanding the force makes a Drill check versus a DC determined by Size and the new Formation. Certain Formations are better against certain attacks, but weak against certain others.
  • General/Commander/Leautenant/Captain/any title – Whoever is commanding the force has a title. For all examples in explaining these house-rules, the term “general” will be used.
Every army needs to have discipline. Drill represents that discipline. Drill is rated much like any other Skill, from 0 and up. A rag-tag group of peasant rebels are not very disciplined and have a low rating (0-3 perhaps), the city watch are better trained (somewhere from 5-10 maybe) and standard soldiers are well trained (somewhere around 15). Very few legions, if even that, have Drill rated over 20 and only characters of Epic level are in their command.
Drill is not only about how well they are trained in combat. Even peasants can learn how to swing a sword effectively. Zealous fanatics with fighting experience are still no match for trained soldiers. Faced with overwhelming odds, the fanatics will flee from the battlefield. In front of a colossal red dragon, the soldiers will stand vigilant. In a sense, Drill is like a character’s Will Save. In reality, it measures how well the army follows orders.
Drill is an army trait, which means it belongs to the army and not the General. If a General is ordered to command a differend squad, he may have tougher or easier time commanding the soldiers. But an aspiring General can make a whole lot of difference. When making a Drill check, the General always adds his Charisma modifier to the roll.
So when are Drill checks made? Fairly often. Whenever the army risks routing a check must be made or else the army is lost from the battle. The DC for Drill checks against a rout is equal to 15 + the Size difference of the biggest opposing force. In that case, each Size difference adds +1 to the DC. So a Medium army checks against DC 17 when making a routing check against a Huge army. Checking for routs is made when a) the two opposing forces first begin the battle and b) when the army has suffered enough damage to lower the Size (see below). When the two forces begin battle, only the smaller force makes a check for routing. If both are equally big, both make a check versus DC 15.
Drill is also made to change formations. Changing the force’s formation is a move action. To change formation, the General makes a Drill check with DC equal to 10 + the force’s size above Medium (+1 for Large, +2 for Huge and so on) + any additional modifiers from the new formation. The following formations are standard, but DMs add to this list as however they want and allow Players to device their own formations.
  • Close Formation – the standard and basic formation. No change, DC +0
  • Loose Formation – instead of standing close to each other, some space is made between them. +2 AC versus ranged attacks, -2 AC versus close attacks. DC +0
  • Charge – not really a formation, but should have same rules. Works in all respect as a normal charge. DC +2.
  • Defensive – again, not really a formation. The soldiers for a wall of shield or something of the like to gain better defense. This has all the benefits of Defensive Action.
  • Changing Form – imagine a Huge creature and most likely you’ll imagine something that covers 3 by 3 squares on the battle mat. A force is more like a swarm as in it can change its form like a swarm. Changing the form counts as changing formation. DC +2
A force can’t be in more than one formation at a time, except the changing of form. A force can be in any formation with its new form. Regardless, a force can’t change formation more than once every turn, so a force can’t change into loose formation and change form at the same time.
Where Drill is like the force’s Will Save, Might is like the base damage which the force dishes out. A force’s Might is measured by the power of the weapons and the average strength of all the soldiers. Might is added to any damage rolled that round (more on battle later). The peasant rebels with pitchforks and clubs might have Might around 0, dealing preciously little damage every round. The city watch may have Might 2 or 3. Soldiers have Might 5 or close to it, while an army with massive collection of magical weaponry might have Might up to 10 or even above.
When calculating the Might of a force, few things are added to the formula. The average Strength modifier of the soldiers (but only for weapons that normally add Str to their damage) and any bonus from the weapons. In short, the average damage modifier of all the soldiers. The easiest way to calculate this is to have all the soldiers identical. With up to 1,000 soldiers, a single whimp or super-soldier among them won’t make any difference. Worse is if half the soldiers fight with swords (and nothing else) and half fights with bows (and nothing else). In that case, change nothing. A badly arranged force will do badly in combat. Here are some examples of Might calculations:
  • Medium force, 100 with +2 swords and Str +4: Might 6
  • Small force, 48 with swords and Str +1, 2 with +3 swords and Str +4: Might 1
  • Huge force, 1,000 with +2 bows and Str +3: Might 2
  • Colossal force, 1,000 with swords and Str +2, 1,000 with bows and Str +2: Might 1 (swords) and Might 0 (ranged)
  • Fine force, 1 with +3 sword and Str +5: Might 8
The list of how big an army is according to its Size is above. It should be noted that the list can be changed to fit any campaign, it won’t change much else. This part of this article is to cover some of the possible complications that may arise. How do bigger opponents appear in this system? How do smaller opponents appear? Is a colossal dragon equal to or even close to a colossal army? Size also covers more than just numbers. It modifies the total number of hit points and the face of the army on the battle mat. But mostly, it’s about numbers.
A colossal red dragon is still only a single unit, which makes him the same size as any other single units: Fine. The same goes for the sprite or halfling. This is the simplest way of dealing with it. If you want to make it more complicated, the following is presented as an option to the optional house-rules:
Every two Size catagories that a single unit is bigger than Medium (Huge and Colossal) make the force one Size catagory bigger. This only applies if more than half the force is of that Size catagory. The same goes with smaller creatures, every two Size catagories from Medium (Tiny and Fine) makes their force one Size smaller. 100 colossal red dragons or Fine insects would count as a Huge or Tiny force respectfully, while 100 large ogres or small gnomes would still count as a Medium force.
Like previously said, that is only an optional addition to the otherwise optional rules. The main reason why it should not be used is because Size is more than just numbers, but also modifies the total number of hit points that a force has (see Hit Points below). The main reason why it should be used is because it makes the face of the force more credible on the battle mat.
So, if the option above is not used, does a colossal red dragon have a fighting chance against a colossal army? It is possible, just like any Medium creature could possibly stand against a Colossal Red Dragon. I’ll make an example out of this later.
Speed & Reach
Speed doesn’t really change that much in this system. On the battle mat, a human who travels 30 ft. in a 3 seconds round travels 6 squares in Mass Combat or Grand Scale Combat. The difference is that the distance is 20 times further in Mass Combat and further still in Grand Scale Combat. In Mass Combat, each square is 100x100 feet instead of the normal 5x5 feet. A soldier who moves 30 ft. in normal rounds travels 600 ft. in Mass Combat.
Complication arises! What if half the group travels slower than the rest? Unlike many other aspects of the Mass Combat system, speed is not calculated with the average of the entire force. The force only moves as fast as its slowest soldier. Even if there is a single dwarf among the 99 humans, the force only moves as fast as the dwarf. None will be left behind, none will advance without the others.
While speed has little changes made to it, reach suffers heavy restrictions. Any attack that has range less than 100 feet can only attack the nearest square. Because of this, you as a DM should consider the following option: Allow any weapon that has range increment to attack up to its maximum range without penalties. Remember that a Mass Combar round is a whole minute (briefly mentioned above, sorry), which the archers could have spent aiming. Even if they do not aim, their random fire upon the enemy is still likely to hit something.
All melee attacks are within 100 ft. so they only reach the nearest square, no matter how big the soldier is.
Hit Points
There can be up to 2,500 soldiers in a single force according to this system. Each and one of them have hit points. Hit points are dealt with a bit differently in Mass Combat than normal. First of all, a force has no negative hit points. There’s no -1 to -10, only 0 and up. What’s more, a force has multiple layers of hit points depending on Size. This may produce some confusion.
Lets begin with calculating the very basic number of hit points. It is simple. The very basic number of hit points a force has is the average number of hit points of all the soldiers. This is a reason why it is simpler to have all the soldiers statistically the same. 100 soldiers with 33 hit points each gives the force a starting 33 hit points. If 100 soldiers each have different ammount of hit points, precious time will be wasted in calculating.
Now for the more complicated part. Each Size catagory above Fine adds a new layer of hit points to the force, so a Medium force of 100 soldiers with starting hp of 33 has five layers with 33 hp each. A simpler way is to say that a Medium force has 5x33 hit points. If it were a Colossal force, it would have 9x33 hit points.
Every time a force’s hit points reach 0, the force drops one Size catagory and its hit points restart at the base number. No excessive damage is carried over to the next layer. If a Medium force with 5x33 hit points has suffered severe damage, has only 3 hit points left of its currect hp layer and then suffers 7 damage, the force drops to Small Size and has 4x33 hit points left (the excessive damage is wasted).
Once the final layer (Fine Size) has lost all its hit points, the force is defeated. It is pretty much the same thing as if a character is killed. The winning force decides the fate of their enemies but that is discussed below.
During combat, the General can have the force do whatever he could do himself. The General can have his force move in any direction, change into any formation and attack any other force within range. Some orders will require a Drill check, some are much too simple to be bothered with such a check. The General is limited to his own force, however. Even an overall general who is in command of the whole army can’t control all the forces on his side. A General can only command a single force, which makes bigger forces much easier to control. Bigger forces are riddled with penalties (perhaps a slight exaggeration) which gives smaller forces a slight edge. DMs should consider allowing one General to control multiple forces by using Drill checks with increased DC.
Nearly any action that can be taken in normal combat can be taken in Mass Combat. Certain actions, like grappling, tripping and disarming, are not very likely, however, and should be discouraged by the DM. Other actions are very likely possible.
Forces use the Initiative of their own Generals. So a Small force with a General who has Initiative 4 also has Initiative 4.
The forces also use the base attack bonus of their own Generals. So a level 12 Fighter in control of an army gives his force 3 attacks with the attack modifier of +12/+7/+2.
Instead of the Strength modifier, the General adds his Intelligence modifier to the force’s attacks. So a level 12 Fighter with Int 14 attacks with total attack modifier of 14.
Basic combat is really as simple as that. When we get to damage, however, that’s where things start getting complicated. Damage equals the weapons’ damage die + the force’s Might. So a force armed with longswords and Might 4 deal 1d8+4 damage. But then comes the question: what if not all the soldiers are armed with the same weapon? There’s no simple way of deciding that. I suggest that every DM decide by themselves how to handle that, but I also have a suggestion myself of how it may work.
Take the damage dice that the force has and find the average. 25 longswords, 25 shortswords, 25 battleaxes, and 25 greatswords would count as d800 (25d8 + 25d6 + 25d6 + 50d6). The average would be d8. So that force would deal 1d8+Might damage on successful attacks. If you don’t hit as simple number as 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, or 20, but end up with an average of 15, just find the nearest die that could represent it (in this case d12).
This is not a perfect way to deal with this. It’s just a suggestion. The simplest way is to arm your forces with the same weapons.
Armor Class
Peasant rebels rarely have much of an armor, and against hundreds of enemies your Dexterity won’t do you much good. Most forces are armored and carry a shield. Like normally, to hit a target you must roll higher than the target’s AC. Mass Combat does not change that at all. But there are some changes. Minor ones, mind you.
To find a force’s AC, find the average AC of all the soldiers in the bunch. Size modifiers apply. Dexterity also applies. When that is finished, add the General’s Wisdom modifier. You have your force’s AC. Simple as that.
If you, the DM, think that a force’s AC is too high with the General’s Wisdom modifier, leave out the soldiers’ Dexterity modifier from the mix. The General’s Wisdom modifier is there because it is the General who must direct the force in their defense. So, if you intend to leave out either Wisdom or Dexterity, I recommend leaving out Dexterity.
Magic in Mass Combat
Magic doesn’t work any different in Mass Combat than how it normally does. Like mundane combat in Mass Combat, you find the Might of your Wizards/Sorcerers/Clerics/whatever. This is done in the same way, but you might have to figure out the Might of multiple spells that are different from each other. You, the DM, should have the rule that all spellcasters in any given force must cast the same spell. If you don’t, you will end up with too much calculations that will slow the game down considerably.
If there are multiple spellcasters of different casterlevel, find the average. It’s all about the average. Second to the easiest way is to find the average casterlevel in advance. The easiest way is to have all the spellcasters of the same casterlevel. That way, you know what spells they can cast and what effect it will have.
Remember the range difference. Spells that have the range of less than 100 ft. can only effect the nearest squares. Also remember the difference in time. Each round is one minute, which means that many spells will only last few rounds. Spells that have shorter duration than a minute still take effect as normal and last for the round.
Only one spell can be cast per turn, even if the turn is a full minute (20 normal turns). This can be justified by simply saying “it takes a full minute for the spellcasters to synchronize themselves for an effective attack”. Say what you must to justify why the Players can’t cast more spells than in a normal combat.
When you are the target of a spell, all saves are dealt with using Drill. Well trained soldiers are more difficult to manipulate, specially near their General. Co-ordination, team-work and other factors can be credited to the training.
Mixed Forces
Spellcasters in a force along with Fighters or the like is just, in general, a bad idea. Co-ordinating spellcasters and non-spellcasters should become rather difficult. The same thing goes when Rogues are in the force. When the force has mixed classes, consider the following as an additional option to the rules.
After you have the total Size of the force, find the individual Size of all the classes in it. Add the Size of all the different classes, save the biggest, to the Drill DC (minimum +1). So if a Gargantuan force of 1,000 soldiers includes 900 Fighters and 100 Wizards (which makes the Wizards a Medium Sized force) all Drill checks have the DC increased by +1.
On the other hand, instead of increasing the DC, you could apply equal penalty to the Drill checks. What does it change? Not a damn thing, really.
Special Units
The best way to design a force is to make them all identical. However, there is always someone who stands out. He is a special unit, a guy/gal with a name, player class, magical weapon, whatever. The Special Unit is always better than the rest, but is rarely the General. Each Size catagory above Fine gives you a special unit. So a Tiny force has 2 special units, Medium has 4 special units, and Colossal has 8 special units. Technically speaking, the General is a special unit, but PCs shouldn’t be counted for this quota.
There are few rules when designing a special unit. First of all, a special unit never has a higher level than the General, except maybe in a DM controlled force. Second, they never roll for Abilities. They always start with 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8. Third, they always have average hit points total. Finally, the DM always has a final saying of how to create the special unit. The DM decides upon an appropriate level.
Special unit can be of any class which the DM has approved. He can have any Skill appropriate, may have any Feat he can and any weapon which he has proficiency for. In most aspects, the special unit is a character.
So what does the special unit do? Pretty much nothing. He fights and follows orders just like everybody else does. But the special unit is a great source of morale, which makes him a valuable target. The special unit is like an organ. He can be the target for called shots (treat him like a normal called shot to the eye). A successful attack knocks the special unit out and forces the force in which he belonged to make a Drill check as if the force had dropped down a Size catagory. Increase the DC by +1 for every special unit that has been knocked out in the battle. Failure means the force routs.
Outside Mass Combat, special units are like any other NPC that is loyal to the General. Their attitude towards him is always Friendly or Helpful.
Routing is bad for the General. When the force is routing, it makes its way from the battle. Problem is, when that happens they are pretty much like sitting ducks. In all regards, a routing force is helpless, except it can take a single move action per turn.
Every turn the General can make a Drill check (DC 15) to stop the force from routing. If successful, the force stops in its tracks and starts the next round in loose formation. If unsuccessful, the force continues on the quickest way out from the battle.
Victory or Losing
Terms of victory is simple. The other force must suffer enough damage to bring its total hp to a total of 0 or the other force must rout entirely from the battle. Off the battle mat or whatever the DM feels appropriate.
If a force loses a battle, a lot of people have died. If that force includes PCs or important NPCs, roll their Fortitude versus DC equal to 15 +1 for every Size catagory above Fine the biggest force that was fighting you is at the time of your losing. Success means the character survived the battle. Failure means the character died in battle. Optionally, if a character fumbles the roll it means he survived the battle but suffered permanent scarring or lameness. The loss of a leg, blindness, loss of an arm, and so on are appropriate outcome if the Fortitude save fumbles. In any case, the damage should be very difficult and expansive to heal, and only magical healing can do it. Additionally, the damage should be such that it imposes a serious penalty to the character, such as if a spellcaster loses his tongue or if a Fighter loses both his arms.
If the game is set in a world where magical healing is very common and/or easy to come by, or if the DM just doesn’t want the party to die so easily, the DM might want to consider switching the effect of failure and fumble, making permanent damage apply to failed saves and death apply to fumbles.
Worth noting, at the end of the combat, when all the forces on one side have been defeated, the victors get to decide upon their fate. They can take the surviving soldiers captive, release them or slaughter them. They could probably make them dance in a tutu, but I don’t recommend it.
Example of Mass Combat
Gorander the Mighty, a 12th level Fighter, has gathered forces to fight agains the Orcish horde from the East. He has 500 soldiers, of which 100 are human fighters, 20 are human mages, 100 are elven archers, 100 are elven fighters, 50 are dwarven fighters, 50 are dwarven gunners, and 80 are halfling mages. As things stand at this very moment, he has a Large force to fight against the orcs, but the force is very different from each other. To make things simple, the total force has Drill 15.
Gorander decides that he will divide his Large force into smaller forces. He divides it into 4 Medium forces and 2 Small forces based on skill and race. The 20 human mages and 80 halfling mages are joined together in a single Medium force. In this setup, there are more special units that stand out, so after the split he has 22 special units (before he had only 5).
The force that consists of 100 human fighters has Might 3, Drill 15, standard hp of 32, AC of 20 and all are armed with longswords (1d8). The elven force of fighters has Might 3, Drill 15, standard hp of 28, AC of 18 and are armed with bastard swords (1d10). The elven force of archers has Might 1, Drill 15, standard hp of 28, AC 18 and have longbows (1d8). The mixed force of Mages has varying Might depending on the spell they use, Drill 15, standard hp of 23, AC 12 and are unarmed. The Small force of Dwarven fighters have Might 3, Drill 15, standard hp of 37, AC 20 and are armed with dwarven waraxes (1d10). The Small force of dwarven gunners has Might 2, Drill 15, standard hp of 37, AC 20 and are armed with special rifles (2d6). Gorander can either attempt to command them all with difficult use of Drill, or he can have someone else command individual force. He decides on the latter and takes control of the human Medium force.
The orcish horde is a Huge force of 973 orcs and commanded by Hogarth the Wild, a 13th level Barbarian. His horde has Drill 10, as they are poorly trained. All of them are orcish warriors, 406 with greataxe (1d12), 258 with greatsword (2d6), 287 with heavy flails (1d10) and 22 with short bows (1d6). 569 have studded leather armor and 404 are unarmored. Statistically, they have Might 3, Drill 10, standard hp of 40, AC 12 and their standard damage die is 1d(4872+3096+2870+132)/973, or 1d11,27 which would become 1d12 for easier use.
The battle begins with the following as the order of Initiative: Elven fighters, elven archers, Gorondar, dwarven gunners, mixed mages, Hogarth, dwarven fighters.
Round 1: Elven fighters stand their ground and ready their action. Elven archers deliver a volley of arrows to Hogarth, dealing 9 damage (1d8+1). Gorondar stands by the elven fighters and ready their action as well. Dwarven gunners fire upon Hogarth, dealing 7 damage (1d10+2). Mixed mages cast Mage Armor on themselves, increasing their AC to 16 for few more rounds. Hogarth charges Gorondar’s force, at which point the elven fighters and Gorondar use their readied action. Elven fighters miss but Gorondar deals 5 damage to Hogarth’s force. Hogarth gets 15 on the attack roll, missing Gorondar. Dwarven fighters attack Hogarth, dealing 13 damage. In total, Hogarth has suffered 34 damage in the first round.
Round 2: Elven archers take another shot at Hogarth, but miss. Dwarven gunners fire upon Hogarth as well, but also miss. Mixed mages cast fireball upon Hogarth, dealing 9 damage (Hogarth failed his Drill save). Hogarth’s force has now suffered severe damage, dropping its Size catagory down to Large and resets its hp to 40. Hogarth makes a Drill check against routing and succeeds. Elven fighters attack Hogart but miss again. Gorondar also attacks, but fumbles his roll. Communication error occurs among Gorondar’s force, reducing their AC to 18 for the round. Hogarth makes use of Gorondar’s error and makes a fearsome attack on his force, dealing 5 damage to Gorondar’s force. The Dwarven fighters attack and deal 4 damage to Hogarth.
Round 3: Elven archers shoot at Hogarth yet again, this time dealing 3 damage. Dwarven gunners also attack, dealing 6 damage. Mixed Mages attack again with a fireball, dealing 6 damage (Hogarth made a successful Drill save). Elven fighters attack, but miss yet again. Gorondar attacks as well, this time with better effect than before, and deals 7 damage to Hogarth. Hogarth attacks Gorondar again, and deals 12 damage. Dwarven fighters attack Hogarth’s force and deals 7 damage.
Round 4: Elven archers realese a volley and deal 8 damage to Hogarth’s forces. Hogarth has now suffered enough damage to be reduced to Medium Size and resets the force’s hp back to 40. Hogarth makes a Drill check against routing and gets 21, well above the DC. Dwarven gunners attack Hogarth, but miss. Mixed Mages attack yet again with fireballs, dealing 18 damage (Hogarth failed the Drill save). The DM figures this is enough damage to demand another Drill check against routing, on which Hogarth gets 12 and fails. Hogarth’s forces begin to rout in Hogarth’s next action. Elven fighters attack Hogarth’s forces and score a critical, dealing 18 damage. Gorondar attacks as well, dealing only 4 damage. Yet again, Hogarth’s forces are reduced one Size catagory (down to Small), but since they are already routing another Drill check against routing won’t be made. Hogarth’s force begins running away, which means Hogarth’s enemies get attacks of opportunity. Elven fighters deal 10 damage, Gorondar scores a critical and deals 11 damage, Dwarven fighters miss. Dwarven fighters are too slow to get to Hogarth, but move their maximum distance anyway.
Round 5: Elven archers release another volley and deal 2 damage. Dwarven gunners attack as well, and deal 10 damage. Mixed Mages hold their action. Elven fighters move up to and attack Hogarth’s force, but miss. Gorondar does the same, but deals 10 damage. Hogarth’s force has been reduced to Tiny. Hogarth checks again for routing versus DC 17, but gets 13 and continues running. Gorondar and his comrades get attacks of opportunity again. Elven fighters deal 11 damage, Gorondar deals another 11 damage, and Dwarven fighters deal 10 damage. Dwarven fighters are still too far to do anything, but move their maximum distance.
Round 6: Hogarth has moved out of range from the Elven archers and the Dwaven gunners. Mixed Mages still hold their action. Elven fighters move up to Hogarth and attack, dealing 13 damage. Hogarth has been reduced to Diminutive Size. Gorondar also moves up to Hogarth and attacks, dealing 7 damage. Hogarth makes a Drill check against routing versus DC of 18, and rolls 26. Hogarth is no longer routing. Hogarth attacks Gorondar but misses. Dwarven fighters reach and attack Hogarth and score a critical, dealing 27 damage. The DM makes Hogarth check for routing again due to the excessive damage from a single attack. Hogarth makes a Drill check versus DC of 18 again, but fumbles the roll. Hogarth has no chance of returning from the routing for another d4 (2) rounds.
Round 7: Elven fighters attack Hogarth, but fumble and are disoriented for a round. Gorondar attacks Hogart and deals 10 damage. Hogarth’s force has been reduced to Fine. Hogarth begins to run, risking attacks of opportunity. Elven fighters are disoriented and won’t attack, Gorondar fumbles and is disoriented as well, Dwarven fighters attack and fumbles (communication errors all around, eh?).
Round 8: Elven fighters move up to and attack Hogarth, and deal 12 damage. Gorondar does the same and deals 6 damage. Hogarth doesn’t get to make a Drill check for this round and continues running, risking attacks of opportunity. Elven fighters deal 7 damage, Gorondar deals 9 damage. Dwarven fighters are too far away to act.
Round 9: Elven fighters attck and deal 10 damage. Gorondar attacks as well and deals 9 damage. Hogarth’s force has been utterly defeated. The DM rolls Hogarth’s personal Fortitude save and gets 23. Hogarth survived the battle against Gorondar’s forces, but is now entirely at Gorondar’s mercy.
It took only 9 minutes to reduce the orcish horde of nearly 1,000 warriors to nothing.
Grand Scale!
There is some things different when you move from Mass Combat up to Grand Scale. Grand Scale is HUGE! Where Mass Combat is to decide upon individual battles, Grand Scale Combat is to decide upon the whole war. Each round is a week or even a month. During a week, a human without heavy armor that slows him down can walk 168 miles. In a month, he can walk 672 miles. The following base the Grand Scale round on a month. DMs should decide by themselves if they prefer GSC rounds in months or weeks.
The Grand Scale system works in much the same way as Mass Combat, but each Size catagory is far bigger. A simple way of doing it is to multiply the number of soldiers by 100. A Fine force in Grand Scale is as big as a Medium force in Mass Combat. A Medium force has 10,000 soldiers and a Colossal army has up to 250,000 soldiers.
Speed & Reach
Nothing you can do can reach further than the nearest square. If you think about it, in terms of month per turn, that square is 112x112 miles! Only epical magic weaponry can reach any further. Speed is also somewhat interesting. A character that can walk 30 ft in normal combat can walk 672 miles per month. A character moving 40 ft in normal combat moves 896 miles per month. 20 ft translates to 448 miles per month and 15 ft translates to 336 miles per month. To keep things as simple as possible, the distance does not change one bit on the battle mat. 672 miles in Grand Scale Combat are still only 6 squares on the battle mat.
Like in Mass Combat, the legion can only walk as fast as its slowest unit.
Because there are so bloody many in the biggest legions (250,000!), it is nearly impossible to assume every single one is identical. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to assume that you must find the average of this or that. So this is what I suggest you do instead (of course, you can also use this in Mass Combat):
Might starts at 2. Siege weapons add +1. Huge creatures in considerable numbers add +1. Colossal creatures in considerable numbers add +2 (does not stack with the Huge creatures modifier). Tiny or smaller creatures in considerable numbers change nothing. Magical weapons with enchantment bonus of +6 or higher in considerable numbers adds +1. Any special attack (spells included) that deals at least 10 damage (not taking in account the possibility of a successful Save of any kind) adds +1 per minimum 10 damage (+2 for min 20 damage, +3 for min 30 and so on). Any special attack (spells included) that can cause instant death or destruction (such as Phantasmal Killer) adds +2. Multiple attacks with the same effect (such as multiple spells that cause instant death) do not stack.
Might can be increased with the use of the Political System (see below).
Drill works pretty much the same way as it does in Mass Combat, but has additional use. The General does not attack with his own base attack bonus, but instead uses Drill as the base attack. If the force’s Drill is high enough, the force can have additional attacks (use the same rules for this as for normal base attack bonus).
Routing is still a possibility, but DMs may instead use Drill to decide on the force’s loyalty to the Grand General. At any time the DM finds appropriate, the Grand General makes a Drill check. Failure (or fumble if you don’t want to be mean to your Players) means that the force leaves the army. A fumble may mean that the force joins the opposite side and actively attacks the rest of the army.
There are no formations in Grand Scale Combat. Finally, instead of adding the Grand General’s Charisma modifier to the Drill checks, in Grand Scale Combat the Grand General adds his Intelligence modifier.
Armor Class
In Grand Scale Combat, the force’s AC is calculated in a similar way as Might. AC starts with 10. For any medium armor in considerable numbers, add +1. For every heavy armor in considerable numbers, add +2 (does not stack with medium armor bonus). For any shields in considerable numbers, add +1. For any heavy shields in considerable numbers, add +2 (does not stack with shield bonus). For any creatures in considerable numbers who have natural armor, add +1. For any creatures in considerable numbers with damage reduction, regeneration, spell resistance or any other special abilities (including spells) to resist direct attacks or damage, add +1 for each. For any creatures in considerable numbers who are Huge or bigger, -1 to AC. For any creatures in considerable numbers who are Colossal, -2 to AC (does not stack to the Huge size pentalty). The Grand General’s Intelligence modifier is added to the force’s AC.
Note that multiple applications of the same special ability with different description does not stack (Damage Reduction 2/silver and DR 3/magic do not stack, for example).
Hit Points
HP in Grand Scale Combat work in the same way as they do in Mass Combat, with a little twist. The base hp count is only 1/3 of what would be used in Mass Combat (if you instead have one turn equal one week, either make it 1/2 or 2/3 instead), and excessive damage are carried over to the next hp layer. The round in Grand Scale is a full month. It shouldn’t take years for two legions to finish their battle (although that would be very epic and cool).
As a final twist, a force can take a defensive action to heal some of it’s damage. If a force takes a defensive action for a full round, and does not suffer any damage that round, the force regains a Size catagory that was previously lost. This can’t make a force bigger than it was at the start of the combat.
Special Attacks and Units
There are no special attacks or units. That is all calculated into Might.
During Grand Scale Combat, a force can take far less actions than in Mass Combat or normal combat. In Grand Scale Combat, you can Attack, Defend, and/or Move. That’s about it. Attack uses Drill as base attack bonus and the Grand General’s Intelligence modifier.
Defend is a Defensive Action and works in the same way with the same bonuses and penalties.
Moving is discussed in Speed & Reach above. Like normally, you can take a move action and a standard action. Defensive action can be a full round action, but doesn’t need to be.
Damage is where things become trickier. Each Size catagory of the force provides the force with a base damage die to which the force then adds its Might. The Size catagories and corrisponding damage dice are as follows:
  • Fine – 1d3
  • Diminutive – 1d4
  • Tiny – 1d6
  • Small – 1d8
  • Medium – 1d10
  • Large – 2d6
  • Huge – 2d8
  • Gargantuan – 3d6
  • Colossal – 3d8
If a force drops down a Size catagory for any reason (such as if the force is split or if the force suffers enough damage) the base damage die drops down a single catagory as well.
Grand Scale Combat may be huge, but it’s also short in terms of rounds.
Political Rules with Grand Scale Combat
The Political rules (presented in another article) are a great fit for the Grand Scale Combat rules, because they include a whole nation’s treasury. The use of Political rules translates into upkeep for the Grand Scale armies.
When making Military check in the Political rules, make the roll as normal. Success changes nothing, but every 5 on the roll higher than the DC increases one of the force’s Size, Might, Drill or AC by +1 (10 over the DC translates to +2 and so on). However, failing the roll reduces one of these traits by -1, and additional -1 for every 5 on the roll by which it failed (5 under the DC translates to -2, 10 under the DC translates to -3 and so on).
Example of Grand Scale Combat in use
Gorondar’s country of Aurilia promotes Gorondar after his successful battle against Hogarth’s horde of orcs and dubs him the Mighty, but the war continues. Gorondar the Mighty is now in control of Aurilia’s 7th legion, which has the following statistics: Size Gargantuan, Might 6, AC 15, Drill 15, standard hp of 11 (1/3 of 33) and it deals 3d6+Might damage.
The 7th legion must make its way to intercept another orcish horde coming from the East. The trip takes nearly a month (300 miles) and the 7th legion has another month before the horde arrives.
The orcish horde is controlled by Drefnr the Horrible (a real meany). The orcish horde is Huge, has Might 7, AC 14, Drill 12, standar hp of 14 and deals 2d8+Might damage.
The two meet in Marion’s Pass and begin their battle. Drefnr is more experienced and rolls higher on Initiative.
Round 1: Drefnr makes a simple attack against Gorondar’s massive legion. He rolls a 23 on the attack and deals 22 damage to Gorondar’s legion. Gorondar is reduced to Large with base damage of 2d6, and makes his attack. He rolls a total 20 and deals 13 damage which leaves Drefnr with 1 hp before being reduced to Large.
Round 2: Drefnr attacks again, rolling a total of 31 and dealing 16 damage. Gorondar’s legion has been reduced to Medium with 5 hp left. Gorondar decides to take a defensive action.
Round 3: Drefnr attacks yet again, but misses. Gorondar’s army has healed much of the wounded, bringing the 7th legion back to Large but still with only 5 hp left until being reduced again. Gorondar attacks Drefnr and deals 27 damage, reducing the horde all the way down to Medium, with 2 hp before being reduced to Small.
Round 4: Drefnr retaliates, and rolls 16 against Gorondar’s AC of 15. Drefnr deals 15 damage to the 7th legion, dropping it to Medium and with only 1 hp left before dropping to Small. Gorondar attacks as well, rolling 25 against Drefnr’s AC of 14 and deals 14 damage. Drefnr’s horde is now Small with 2 hp left.
Round 5: 7th legion has recieved aid from the 5th legion, a Large force. The orcish horde decides to retreat from the battle, which gives the 7th legion a chance to make an attack of opportunity. Gorondar rolls 18 against Drefnr’s AC 14, and deals 10 damage. The horde is reduced to Tiny and has 6 hp left before being reduced again. Gorondar decides to show them mercy and allows them to flee from battle without being pursued.
Despite only taking 5 rounds, the battle of Marion’s Pass had 150,000 of Aurilia’s finest fighting against 100,000 orcs for 5 long months. Each month, several hundreds were killed or injured, and dozens were healed again or possibly even brought back to life. Yet again, Gorondar the Mighty returned victorious from the battle field.
Whew, I never thought this would be so darn long. But now that it’s over with, lets discuss somethings about it.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, these rules are optional to be used if your Players somehow manage to raise an army or gain control over a nation with an army. If they raise just big enough force to use in Mass Combat, make sure they know how much it is worth.
A trained hireling, which is a good base for a standard soldier, is worth 3 sp per day. An untrained hireling, which I count as being the base for a peasant rebel, is worth 1 sp per day. A Medium force of trained hirelings is worth 300 sp per day. A Colossal force is worth as much as 7,500 sp per day. This is just the standard fee and does not take into account food for the soldiers. Rations for a Medium force is 500 sp per day. For a Colossal force it is as much as 12,500 sp per day.
Then we have yet to include arms and armor, mounts for riding units, and material components for spellcasters.
To make an example of how much a single force costs in total, a Medium force of armored riders, armed with longsword and defended by chainmail and a light wooden shield will cost 33,885 gp for the first day, then 85 gp every day after that, not including stabling or repairs of arms or armor. That 85 gp may not sound like much to start with, but that’s 595 gp per week and around 2380 gp each month.
Having an army comes with great advantages, so I recommend you make sure your Players pay for those advantages every week or month (payday).
Finally, how do you increase Drill? Here’s one way of doing it, but I suggest you consider other possible ways as well. Increasing a force’s Drill requires a full week of training and 10 gp per Size catagory (10 gp for Fine, 20 for Diminutive and so on). The gp is for training equipment and such, but does not include other fees such as salary or food. At least 6 hours per day must go into training. Increasing Drill by more than 1 takes longer and is more expansive (one week and 10 gp per Size per +1 Drill). That is my suggestion on how to increase Drill. Given time, even peasant rebels can be made into well trained army.
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. Digg Technorati Blinklist Furlreddit
Thanks to Skari-Dono for this contribution!


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