Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mass Combat in RPGs

Ah, the thunder of the massed chivalry of Nyrond as it charges across a grassy plain towards the leveled pole-arms of the orc and hobgoblin troops of the Old One, Iuz...

Unfortunately, it almost never happens.

As a wargamer from way back, and a miniatures gamer as well, I yearn for a way to integrate some sort of mass combat into my D&D games. There was Battlesystem in 1985, which was probably better described as a skirmish rule set rather than a mass combat rules set, and a fairly mediocre one at that. Judges Guild had City State Warfare, which was more of a traditional hex-and-counter wargame (and a pretty nifty one, as I recall), but there were no rules that I remember for integrating such combats into an already-existing campaign, or roles for individual PCs.

I know that Grendelwulf has been putting together information for Field of Glory armies based on Gary Gygax's 1980's articles in Dragon magazine, detailing armies and political/military maneuvering in the World of Greyhawk. But the FoG rules are strictly historical, and there are no provisions for either magic or individual "heroic" PCs other than leader-types. It would require some sort of conversion or add-on to work with D&D.

But the real question is, am I alone? Would GW and I be the only ones interested in this? I'm working on mass combat rules for Adventures Dark and Deep™, but my question to you is, would you be interested in something like this in your own campaign? Would you use it? Would you rather see something very abstract, that could handle mass combat with just a few die rolls? Did you use Battlesystem, City State Warfare, Swords & Spells, or something else back in the day? Why or why not? Would it depend on how the PCs themselves were handled? Please feel free to share your thoughts.