Mass Combat

Being an attempt to create a system for mass combat that:

  1. jives with existing rules for followers and the Raise Army proficiency,
  2. works with the Polity Management rules,
  3. does not require rolling a thousand attack rolls per round,
  4. works well with a theater-of-the-mind playstyle and does not require visual representation of grids or terrain.

These rules are subject to change.

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Army Statistics

The Unit: For the purposes of these rules, armies shall engage each other as Units. An Unit consists of one or more identical Stands of troops. A Stand is a group of troops of roughly equal fighting ability, having the same level or hit dice, the same or similar species, and the same or similar equipment.

Unit Size: A Unit’s effective strength (it’s “Unit Level”) is determined by the size of the Unit and the level or hit dice of the soldiers that make up the Stands. A Unit can contain anywhere from 1 to 250 stands of troops (2500 being the maximum number of troops of similar level that can be called on short notice using the Raise Army proficiency).

Stands are broken into common groupings of Unit Sizes. Thus 40 troops would comprise 4 Size I units and fight as such; if another stand were added, these could be incorporated into a single Size II unit. In some cases there may be tactical advantages to using multiple smaller units.

Unit Hit Dice: A Unit’s Hit Dice is based on a factor of their size compared to the Hit Dice of the members of the Unit (see chart below).

Smaller Units have an effective Unit HD smaller than their individual HD. If the size modifier below would reduce the Unit’s HD to 0, the unit functions as 1/2 HD; if it would reduce it to less than 0, the Unit is not viable on the battlefield. For example a Size III Unit of 2nd-level Fighters would have a Unit HD of 2; if that unit were reduced to Size II, it would function as 1HD; if it were further reduced to Size I it would function as 1/2 HD.

Generally speaking, a Unit of fewer than 50 green (1st level) troops lacks the fortitude and unit cohesion to survive on a battlefield and will generally route.

Unit Size Number of Stands Common Names Unit Hit Dice Cost to Muster
I 1 (10 men) Squad/Tent Group = HD -2 1 BP
II 5 (50 men) Platoon = HD -1 4 BP
III 10 (100 men) Century = HD 9 BP
IV 25 (250 men) Company = HD +1 16 BP
V 50 (500 men) Cohort = HD +2 25 BP
VI 100 (1000 men) Battalion = HD +4 36 BP
VII 150 (1500 men) = HD +6 49 BP
VIII 200 (2000 men) = HD +8 64 BP
IX 250 (2500 men) = HD +10 81 BP
X 500 (5000 men) Legion = HD +12 100 BP

Unit Hit Points: A Unit has a number of hit points equal to 4 times its Unit Hit Dice. This represents the survivability of the unit as a whole and only applies to mass engagements.

Unit AC: A Unit’s Armor Class is equal to the median AC of the individuals that make up the Unit.

Unit Offense: A Unit’s offense modifier (OM) is equal to its Unit HD.

When attacking, roll 1d20, add the Offense Modifier and compare it to the defending Unit’s AC. If the Offense check is greater than defender’s AC, the defending army takes damage equal to the result of the attacker’s Offense check minus the defender’s AC. For example, if the attacker’s Offense check is 16 and the defender’s AC is 12, the defending Unit takes 3 points of damage.

Morale: A Unit’s Morale is equal to the lowest morale of any individual member of the unit. All of the normal modifiers for Morale and circumstances for checking Morale apply.

Speed: This number indicates how many 6-mile hexes the Unit traverses in a day’s march. This is generally equal to 1/3 the base speed of the creatures that make up the Unit. Thus a Unit made up of humans with a base speed of 12, would have a Unit speed of 4 hexes per day.

Consumption: This is how many Build Points (BP) a Unit consumes each Turn (week), representing the cost to feed, hydrate, arm, train, care for, and pay the units. An army’s base Consumption is equal to its Unit HD divided by 2 (minimum 1). If you fall behind on paying the Unit’s Consumption, reduce its Morale by 2 each turn that passes without paying the Consumption cost; this penalty ends when you catch up on the army’s pay. If Morale reaches 0, the Unit will desert (or rebel if Chaotic).

Sample Unit:

Name Huafk’s Raiders
Alignment Chaotic Good
Size II (50 1st-level Goblin Rangers)
Unit HD 1/2
Unit HP 2
Unit AC 12 (leather + Dex)
Unit Offense +0
Morale 12
Speed 2
Consumption 1

Mass Combat Quick Reference

Each round of Mass Combat is roughly equal to a Turn (10 rounds) of individual combat; or approximately 10 minutes of time. This is intentionally vague, as many things such as battlefield conditions, rules of engagement, or the element of surprise may change how quickly or slowly a battle happens. For example, a battle in a muddy field after a rain could take place over hours and involve several short breaks to remove the dead from the battlefield, but still counts as only 3 or 4 Rounds for the purposes of these rules.

A Mass Combat round takes place over the course of three battle phases: the Tactics Phase, the Ranged Phase, and the Melee Phase. The battle phases are as follows:

  1. Tactics Phase: The GM decides what Battlefield Conditions apply to the battle. The commanders each side select a Tactic their respective Units will use during the battle.
  2. Ranged Phase: Any Unit with the ability to make ranged attacks may make one attack against an enemy Unit. This phase typically only applies to the first round of an engagement, as the two armies use ranged attacks while they advance to melee range, and then use melee attacks thereafter. Ranged Units kept back at a distance are free to continuing fire once melee is joined, but this risks damaging allies just as it does in individual combat.
  3. Melee Phase: The armies finally clash with melee attacks. Each commander selects a strategy using the Strategy Track, then each Unit makes an attack against another Unit. All Units are assumed to attack simultaneously, and thus two Units may wipe each other out in the same round. For faster combat rounds, simply repeat the Melee phase until the commanders of the armies decide to change Tactics.

Attacking: When a Unit attacks, roll an Offense check. An Offense check is 1d20 + the Unit’s Offense Modifier (see above). This can be further modified by the commander’s choice of Tactic and/or Strategy.

Dealing Damage: Compare the result of the Offense check to the defending Unit’s AC. If the check exceeds the defender’s AC, deal damage equal to the amount by which the check exceeds the target AC.

Critical Success/Failure: Sometimes random chance can swing a battle as much as skill.

  • On an Offense Check of a natural 20, double the damage dealt. If a natural 20 would still
    fail to hit the defending Unit’s AC, the attack does 1 damage.
  • On an Offense Check of a natural 1, the attacking Unit deals damage to itself equal to the difference between its Offense Check and the Defender’s AC. Thus if a Unit has an Offense Modifier of +6 and rolls a natural 1 when attacking a Unit with AC 12, the attacking Unit would deal 5 damage to itself.

Battlefield Conditions:

In some mass combats, the specifics of a battlefield won’t impact either army, but sometimes the battlefield will itself decide the outcome. The modifiers listed below apply only for the duration of the battle. Naturally, the GM should exercise judgment regarding any conditions that don’t seem to apply to one of the armies (such as darkness and an army with infravision).

At the GM’s discretion, large-area spells such as Move Earth might allow armies or commanders to manipulate the battlefield conditions before a conflict. For these spells to have any effect, they must last at least 1 hour and affect at least a 500-foot square. Likewise, magic items such as Daern’s Instant Fortress (2 Defense) and spells such as Wall of Stone (1 Defense) can create simple fortifications for an army to use in a battle.

  • Advantageous Terrain: Generally, if one army occupies a position of superiority (such as being atop a hill, wedged in a narrow canyon, or protected by a deep river along one flank), the advantaged army increases its AC by 2.
  • Ambush: In order to attempt to ambush an army, the entire ambushing army must have concealment. The ambusher attempts an Offense check against the target army’s DV. If successful, the battle begins but the target army doesn’t get to act during the first round. Otherwise, the battle proceeds normally.
  • Homefield Advantage: If an army is particularly familiar with a battlefield (and their enemy is not), it’s OM and AC increase by 2.
  • Darkness: Darkness reduces all armies’ OM by 2 and AC by 3, unless those armies possess Infravision.
  • Dim Light: Dim light reduces all armies’ OM by 1.
  • Fog: Fog reduces all damage by half and gives the armies a +2 bonus on Morale checks to use the withdraw tactic.
  • Fortifications: An army located in a fortification adds the fortification’s Defense to its AC. A settlement’s Defense is determined by the types of buildings it contains.
  • Rain: Rain reduces all armies’ OM by 2 during the Ranged Phase only.
  • Sandstorm: A sandstorm counts as fog and deals 1 hp of damage to all armies during each Ranged and Melee phase.
  • Snow: Snow affects ranged attacks like rain, and affects damage like fog.
  • Wind: Strong winds reduce all armies’ OM by 4 during the Ranged Phase only.


Tactics are options an army can use to influence aspects of a battle. Certain tactics are common tactics available to all Units. Additional tactics are available to a Unit if the Unit’s Commander is trained in the Offensive Tactics or Defensive Tactics proficiencies.

When a battle begins, during the Tactics phase, the Commander selects one tactic to use for that battle. At the start of each subsequent round, the Commander may try to change tactics by either attempting a Battlefield Command proficiency check, or else by making a Morale check for his side. Success means the army uses the new tactic for that phase (and the modifiers from the old tactic cease); failure means the army continues to use its current tactic. The effects of tactics end when the battle does.

As with battlefield conditions, gaining benefits from a tactic is subject to GM discretion. (For example, you may not get the expert flankers benefit if you cannot actually flank your enemy).

Common Tactics: These are always available.

  • Standard: Your army’s attacks have no additional modifiers to its OM, DV, or damage.
  • Withdraw*: Your Unit tries to escape from all units attacking it. The Unit attempts a Morale check for each Unit attacking it to maintain discipline. If all of these checks are successful, your Unit may withdraw from the battlefield. If only some are successful, you withdraw to Ranged distance and treat the Melee phase as an extra Ranged phase. Whether or not the checks are successful, reduce your army’s OM and AC by 2 for the rest of this round.

Defensive Tactics: These require a Commander with the Defensive Tactics NWP.

  • Cautious Combat: Your army fights cautiously in order to maintain morale. Decrease its OM by 2, and add 2 to all its Morale checks.
  • Defensive Wall: Your army fights defensively, taking actions to protect fellow units as needed. Decrease its OM by 2, and increase its AC by 2.
  • Full Defense: Your army focuses on total defense of the battlefield. Increase its AC by 4, and decrease its OM by 4.
  • False Retreat: Once per battle, your army can make a false retreat, luring a target enemy army deeper into your territory. On the round your Unit makes a false retreat, it doesn’t attempt an Offense check. On the round after it uses this tactic, increase its OM and DV by 6 against the target army.
  • Spellbreaker: Your army has specialists who can disrupt enemy spellcasting. Increase its AC by 4 against armies with the spellcasting ability.
  • Taunt: Your army is skilled at taunting its opponents, provoking stupid mistakes and overconfidence in battle. The target army must attempt a Morale check at the start of each Melee or Ranged phase; failure means it reduces its OM and AC against your army by 2 for that phase. If the target army succeeds at two of these Morale checks, it’s immune to this tactic for the remainder of the battle.

Offensive Tactics: These require a Commander with the Offensive Tactics NWP.

  • Cavalry Experts: Your army’s OM increases by 2 against armies that aren’t mounted. The army must have the mount resource to use this tactic.
  • Dirty Fighters: Your army uses trickery and unfair tactics to gain an advantage at the start of a battle. During the Melee phase of the first round, its OM increases by 6. (After that Melee phase, the opposing army knows to be ready for such tricks.)
  • Expert Flankers: Your army is skilled at surrounding the foe and distracting them, at the cost of spreading out too much and being more vulnerable. Increase its OM by 2, and decrease its AC by 2.
  • Relentless Brutality: Your army throws caution to the wind and attacks with savage and gory vigor. Increase its OM by 4, and decrease its AC by 4.
  • Siegebreaker: Your army targets another army’s siege engines in an attempt to destroy them. If your army damages the target army, your army attempts a second Offense check; if successful, destroy one of the target’s siege engines. This tactic has no effect on enemy armies without siege engines.
  • Sniper Support: Your army holds some ranged units in reserve to attack a target enemy army during the Melee phase. If your army damages the target army in the Melee phase, it deals 2 additional points of damage from these ranged attacks. The army must have ranged attacks to use this tactic.


At the beginning of the first Melee Phase of a battle, the commander selects a strategy from one of five options on the strategy track.

Once each Melee phase after the first, the commander can alter the army’s strategy. Adjusting the strategy 1 step up or down does is automatically successful and doesn’t require a check. If the commander wants to adjust strategy more than 1 step, the unit must make a Morale check. Success means the strategy changes to the desired level. Otherwise, the army’s current strategy doesn’t change.

Strategies adjust the army’s AC, OM, damage. Modifiers from Strategy stack with those provided by Battlefield Modifiers and the Unit’s Tactics. Adjustments to damage apply when the Unit is attacking (not to attacks made against the Unit).

Strategy AC OM Damage
Defensive +4 -4 -6
Cautious +2 -2 -3
Standard +0 +0 +0
Aggressive -2 +2 +3
Reckless -4 +4 +6

Outcomes of Battle

An army is victorious if all of its enemy Units flee the battlefield or are defeated. The aftermath of the battle can be different for each army, and depends on whether it was defeated, routed, or victorious.

Defeated: If an Unit’s hit points are reduced to 0, it is Defeated. If the battle is still won by the defeated Unit’s side, the survivors will regroup later as a Unit of 1 size smaller (due to losses and desertions).

If the battle is lost, the defeated Unit is so demoralized and wounded (and probably captured by the enemy) that the Unit no longer exists as a cohesive group and can’t be used again in mass combat. If a Unit is thus destroyed, reduce your Polity’s Economy, Loyalty, and Stability according to the size of the Unit (see table below.)

Unit Size Economy Loyalty Stability
I 0 0 0
II 0 -1 0
III -1 -1 0
IV -1 -1 -1
V -2 -2 -2
VI -3 -2 -2
VII -4 -2 -2
VIII -4 -2 -3
IX -4 -3 -3
X -4 -4 -4

Routed: An Army is Routed if it fails a Morale check (see Morale for details on when Morale should be checked and applicable modifiers). If the army routs, reduce its Morale by 1. If the army’s current hp are lower than the army’s Unit HD, increase its hit points to its HD. A routed army refuses to fight until you succeed at a Loyalty check during your polity’s Upkeep phase (you may attempt this check once per turn). Note that a routed army can still be attacked by enemy armies, and can attempt Offense checks in battles—it just can’t initiate a battle.

Victorious: If your Unit is the last one left on the battlefield (not counting other friendly armies), it is victorious. Each time a Unit wins a battle, it gains experience. Generally speaking, a Unit that wins a number of battles equal to twice its current level will level up (i.e. a Unit comprised of 2nd-level Fighter would need to win 4 battles to increase to 3rd-level Fighters).

In addition, each time the Unit wins a battle you can attempt a Loyalty check against your polity’s Control DC. If you succeed at this check, the Unit’s Morale increases by 1 (maximum of Morale 20). If the Unit’s current hit points are lower than the Unit’s HD, increase its hit points to its HD. You may attempt a second Loyalty check; if you succeed, the army’s Commander learns a Boon.

Unit Recovery

Each day that an army spends at rest (no movement and no battle), it heals a number of hit points equal to its Unit HD. Once per Turn, during your polity’s Upkeep Phase you may attempt a Loyalty Check against your polity’s Control DC. If you succeed, each Unit heals a number of additional hit points equal to its HD.

The mass combat rules assume that this healing is a combination of actual wound healing and gaining new units to replace those who were killed (meaning you don’t have to track individual losses and resize armies). These units can be recruited from sympathetic locals, replacements from your own settlements, or forced conscripts from conquered lands. If circumstances make these replacement options unavailable or unlikely, the GM is free to limit how much an army can heal, generally to half the army’s normal hit points.

Commander’s Boons

A Unit’s commander helps maximize its effectiveness and can provide special bonuses to the Unit. The commander can be a PC or NPC. Unless you decide to command a Unit personally or the GM allows you to recruit an exceptional commander through adventuring and roleplaying, a new Unit’s commander is an unexceptional leader who provides no bonuses to the Unit.

The primary benefits of a talented Commander are the ability to employ advanced Tactics (see above) and increasing the Unit’s Morale. A Commander adds his Loyalty Adjustment from his Leadership score to the Unit’s Morale (to a maximum Morale of 20).

Boons: Boons are special abilities a commander grants to an Unit, learned through victory on the battlefield. Most of these boons affect the rolls and statistics for battles, and the Commander must be present at the battle to provide their benefit. A commander grants the Unit all the boons she knows (she doesn’t have to select just one).

Each time a Commander leads a Unit to victory, they have a chance to learn one of the following Boons (see Victory above). A Commander can learn a maximum number of Boons equal one-half his character level (rounded up).

  • Bloodied but Unbroken: The commander inspires the Unit to be at its greatest in the most desperate times. When an Unit’s hit points are at half its full normal hit points or fewer, it gains a +1 bonus on Offense checks. If the Commander has Leadership of 15 or higher, this bonus increases to +2.
  • Defensive Expert: The commander is especially good at Defensive Tactics. When using any of the Defensive Tactics above, the Unit gains an additional +2 to its AC. A Commander must have the Defensive Tactics nwp in order to select this boon.
  • Flexible Tactics: The commander trains the Unit to be receptive to multiple orders during a battle. The Unit gains a -5 bonus on Morale checks to change tactics during a battle. If the Commander has Leadership of 17 or higher, this bonus increases to -10 on the roll.
  • Hit and Run: The commander drills the Unit in quick attacks followed by a fast retreat. After attacks are resolved in the Ranged phase or the Melee phase of the first round, the Unit may immediately use the Withdraw tactic with a -2 bonus on its Morale checks. If the Commander has Leadership of 15 or higher, this bonus increases to -4 on the roll.
  • Hold the Line: The commander is skilled at convincing the Unit to maintain morale against dangerous opponents. If the Unit fails a Morale check to avoid a rout, it may reroll that check. It must accept the results of the second check, even if it is worse.
  • Live off the Land: The commander makes the Unit trap game, hunt, and fish to augment its food supplies. Reduce the Unit’s Consumption and speed by half for any week this Boon is used. The GM may rule that Huge and larger armies deplete the available resources from a hex over 1d3 Turns, requiring the Unit to move if it wants to maintain the reduced Consumption level.
  • Loyalty: The commander inspires greater loyalty in the Unit. The Unit gains a +2 bonus to its Morale score (to a maximum Morale of 20). If the Commander has Leadership of 17 or higher, this bonus increases to +4.
  • Merciless: The commander encourages the Unit to be ruthless in its tactics and spare no wounded enemies. Enemy Units attempting to Withdraw suffer a +1 penalty on their Morale rolls, and the Commander’s Unit gains a +1 bonus on the last Offense check against a routed Unit or one using the withdraw tactic.
  • Sharpshooter: The commander drills the Unit in precision ranged attacks. The Unit gains a +2 bonus on Offense checks against armies using fortifications. This boon has no effect if the Unit can’t make ranged attacks.
  • Triage: Whether using magic, alchemy, herbalism, or folk knowledge, the commander drills the Unit in using emergency methods to treat wounds. Once per battle, the Unit may take a –4 penalty on its Offense checks and heal damage equal to half its Unit HD. If the Unit has the healing potions resource, it also gains the healing from this Boon (without the Offense check penalty) when it uses healing potions.

Polity Leaders as Commanders

If you currently a Polity Leadership role (Ruler, High Priest, Grand Diplomat, and so on), you may take the role of an army commander. As with other commanders, you must remain active with the army to grant your Leadership bonus to the Unit’s Morale, and must be at the battle to provide tactics and bonuses.

Polity Leaders automatically have access to 1 Commander Boon based on their assigned Leadership role. Polity Leaders may learn additional Boons through Victories normally.

  • Ruler: Bloodied but Unbroken
  • Councilor: Loyalty
  • General: Sharpshooter
  • Grand Diplomat: Defensive Expert
  • High Priest: Triage
  • Magister: Flexible Tactics
  • Marshal: Live off the Land
  • Enforcer: Merciless
  • Spymaster: Hit and Run
  • Treasurer: Loyalty
  • Warden: Hold the Line

Losing Commanders

If a Unit is destroyed and the commander is an NPC, the commander is killed (01–20), captured (21–70), or escapes (71–00). An army of mindless creatures kills all captured NPC commanders. You may ransom a captured commander by paying BP equal to the commander’s Unit’s Consumption (if captured by another polity, this goes to that polity’s Treasury). A commander with a history of losing battles, being captured, and being ransomed gains an unlucky reputation among your troops and reduces the Morale of any army under him by 1.

If a PC is the commander and your army is destroyed, the final outcome of the battle should be role-played. Generally the PC commander will be able to escape with serious injuries, or otherwise be captured and held for ransom. The other PCs may pay BP, gold, or other treasures to ransom the captured PC commander, or the GM may allow the other PCs to have an adventure where they attempt to rescue the captive commander.

Unit Resources

Resources are physical assets the army can use to improve its abilities. You must spend the BP for a resource before you can apply it to the army. Some armies can’t use certain resources—an army of wolves can’t use healing potions or improved weapons, mindless creatures can’t use siege engines, and so on.

The cost of a resource doesn’t end when you purchase it. Units must be trained to use new equipment, elite units demand higher pay, expensive items are more costly to maintain and repair, and so on. Each resource added to an army increases the army’s weekly Consumption by the listed amount.

The costs listed are for an Medium army (Size V). Resources for a smaller or larger army cost proportionately less or more than this amount (minimum 1 BP).

Resource Scaling
Unit Size Multiplier
I x1/8
II x1/6
III x1/4
IV x1/2
V x1
VI x2
VII x4
VIII x10
IX x20
X x30
  • Healing Potions (10 BP): Each individual in the Unit is equipped with several healing potions. At any point during a battle (but no more than twice per battle), the commander can order her troops to drink their potions. The Unit doesn’t attempt an Offense check that phase, but heals a number of hit points equal to twice its Unit HD. Each time a Unit uses its healing potions, increase its Consumption that week by 3. To purchase this resource, your polity must have an Alchemist, Caster’s Tower, Cathedral, Herbalist, Magic Shop, Magical Academy, or Temple.
  • Improved Armor (3 BP): You equip your Unit with the next better armor available (for example replacing Leather Armor with Studded, or Scale Armor with Chain). Increase the Unit’s AC by 1. To purchase this, your polity must have a Foreign Quarter, Military Academy, or Smithy.
  • Improved Weapons (5 BP): The army is armed with Fine quality weapons, increasing OM and Consumption by 1. To purchase this resource, your polity must have a Foreign Quarter, Military Academy, or Smithy. This upgrade can also be used to equip an army with weapons made of specialty materials (Silver, Cold Iron, Obsidian, etc.), with similar effect.
  • Magic Weapons (100 BP): You can outfit the army with magic weapons, increasing OM and Consumption by 2. To purchase this resource, your polity must have a Magic Item Shop or Caster’s Tower.
  • Mounts (BP = Mount’s HD): The army is mounted on horses or other war-trained animals. Increase its OM and AC by 2, and increase its Consumption by 1. If your army uses mounts that are more powerful than the units themselves, your Unit’s HD and derived scores might increase. To purchase this resource, your polity must have a Foreign Quarter, Stable, or Stockyard.
  • Ranged Weapons (2 BP): The Unit is equipped with ranged weapons (such as crossbows, slings, or bows), gaining ranged attack capability. Increase its Consumption by 1.
  • Siege Engines (15 BP per engine): Your Unit includes catapults, rams, trebuchets, ballistae, and other siege engines designed to break down fortifications. Increase OM by 2 (regardless of the total number of siege engines in the army) and Consumption by 3 per siege engine. Each Melee phase, reduce the enemy’s bonus to Defense from fortifications by 1d4 per siege engine in your Unit. Unlike other resources, the cost of a siege engine doesn’t scale with the Unit’s size. To purchase this resource, your polity must have an Academy, Foreign Quarter, Military Academy, or University.

Transferring Resources:
You may take a purchased resource from one Unit and give it to a Unit of equal or smaller size so long as the creatures in the recipient Units can use the resource (for example, improved weapons for a hill giant army are of little use to an army of human zombies). Doing so doesn’t cost BP, but reduces the Morale of the donating Unit by 1.

At the GM’s discretion, you may divide a resource among several smaller Units, so long as the total number of individuals in the smaller Unit doesn’t exceed the size of the donating Unit.

If you disband a Unit with a resource, you can give that resource to another suitable Unit, store it for later (such as an army you recruit next year), or sell it for half its BP value.

Unit Special Abilities

Part of the fun of playing out a war in a fantasy game is the fact that you aren’t limited to real-world troops. Though most recruited units are fighters, you may be able to recruit an army of paladins, clerics, or other characters with abilities useful in mass combat.

You might even be able to recruit monsters, whether humanoids such as goblins, trolls, and orcs, or exotic creatures such as centaurs and worgs. These creatures could have monster special abilities useful in mass combat. A typical kingdom doesn’t have access to monster Units unless it has formed alliances with such creatures, either through formal Diplomatic edicts or befriending them during adventures.

Modifiers for these abilities apply only if the majority of the Units in an army have the listed ability. For a class ability, a parenthetical note after the ability name indicates the class and the level the units of the army must be to confer that ability. This listing doesn’t include class abilities acquired after 5th level, as it’s very uncommon to recruit enough individuals of that class level to form a Unit.

You can use the following special abilities as inspiration to generate additional Unit abilities of your own. Unless otherwise stated, the effects of these special abilities (other than hp damage) end when a battle ends. Note that a Unit counts as its own ally for abilities that effect allied armies.

  • Ability Damage/Drain: When this Unit deals damage in melee, the target Unit takes an automatic 1d6 points of damage at the start of the next phase.
  • Amphibious: The Unit can move in or across bodies of water and ignore Defense from water barriers (such as Moats).
  • Animal Friendship (Druid/Ranger): The Unit’s animal companions increase the Unit’s OM by 1.
  • Aquatic: The Unit increases its OM and AC by 1 against armies in the water or on ships. The Unit decreases its OM by 2 against armies on land (unless the Unit also has the amphibious special ability, in which case it doesn’t have this OM penalty).
  • Blind-Fighting: The Unit reduces its OM and AC penalties by half from darkness, invisibility, and weather.
  • Blindsight: The Unit takes no penalties to its OM and AC from darkness, invisibility, or weather.
  • Breath Weapon: The Unit can make ranged attacks. In the Ranged and Melee phases, it deals +1d4 points of damage.
  • Burrow: The Unit can dig under one fortification (or City Walls) by spending a Ranged or Melee phase moving. In later phases, it ignores that fortification’s Defense. During the phase the Unit uses burrow, it can attack or be attacked only by armies using burrow or earth glide.
  • Cannibalize: Reduce Consumption by 1 (minimum 0) for any week in which the Unit wins a battle and is allowed to feed on fallen corpses.
  • Climb: The Unit treats the Defense of fortifications as 25% lower than normal. This benefit doesn’t apply if the fortification can’t reasonably be climbed (such as a moat or wall of force).
  • Create Spawn: If the Unit destroys a living Unit of equal or greater size, it may immediately recover a number of hit points equal to twice its Unit HD or create a new Unit of its type but two sizes smaller than itself.
  • Infravision: The Unit takes no OM or AC penalties in dim light or darkness.
  • Disease: If the Unit damages an enemy, the enemy becomes diseased and takes a cumulative –1 penalty to its OM and AC each day after the battle. Curing the disease requires a successful Stability check modified by this penalty, and allows the Unit to reduce this penalty by 1 each day thereafter until the penalty is gone.
  • Divine Health (Paladin): The Unit is immune to disease.
  • Energy Drain: If the Unit damages an enemy, it reduces the enemy’s OM and AC by 1 for 24 hours.
  • Favored Enemy (Ranger): The Unit increases its OM by 1 against an Unit of a type of creature chosen as the Unit’s Species Enemy (this must be the same for the majority of the Unit).
  • Fear: If the Unit damages an enemy Unit, that Unit must attempt a Morale check. Failure means the enemy Unit is afraid and can’t attempt an Offense check to attack during the next phase. If an Unit fails a Morale check during a phase in which it is already afraid, it routs.
  • Flight: If the Unit doesn’t attack in the Melee phase, it can’t be attacked with melee attacks except by an Unit with flight. The Unit ignores Defense bonuses from City Walls, but not other fortifications.
  • Healing: Once per battle, the Unit can heal a number of hit points equal to half its Unit HD.
  • Companions: Once per battle, the Unit may increase its OM or an allied Unit’s OM by 1 for the rest of the battle.
  • Immunity: If an Unit is immune to a particular special ability (such as poison), an enemy Unit with that ability doesn’t gain those benefits against this Unit. For an Unit with many immunities, also see “significant defense”.
  • Incorporeal: The Unit takes no damage from non-magical attacks, and only half damage from magical attacks. It automatically succeeds at checks to withdraw. It has a mobility advantage in all kinds of terrain.
  • Inspire Courage (Bard): The Unit increases its OM by 1 and gains a +2 bonus on Morale checks. Alternatively, the Unit may apply these bonuses to an allied Unit in the same battle.
  • Invisibility: Any Unit attacking this Unit takes a –2 penalty to its OM for that attack. Any Unit attacked by this Unit takes a –2 penalty to its AC against its attacks. Armies that can’t see invisible creatures can’t prevent this Unit from withdrawing.
  • Lay on Hands (Paladin): In the Melee phase, the Unit can use this ability to heal itself. If it takes an OM penalty equal to half its Unit HD for one Ranged or Melee phase, it heals a number of hit points equal to its Unit HD.
  • Light Sensitivity: The Unit decreases its OM and RV by 1 in bright light.
  • Mindless: The Unit never fails Morale checks, but must always use standard tactics and strategy.
  • Mobility: If the units have a form of mobility that gives them an advantage in the battlefield’s terrain (such as boggards in a swamp), increase the Unit’s OM by 1 for that battle against armies without such mobility.
  • Bonded Mount (Paladin): The Unit’s mounts increase the Unit’s OM and AC by 1.
  • Paralysis: Each time the Unit damages an enemy Unit, reduce the enemy Unit’s AC by 1.
  • Petrification: Each time the Unit damages an enemy Unit, reduce the enemy Unit’s AC by 1.
  • Poison: When this Unit deals damage in melee, the target Unit takes an automatic 1d6 points of damage at the start of the next phase.
  • Rage (Berserker): Once per battle, the commander may order the Unit to rage. Increase the Unit’s OM by 2, decrease its AC by 1, and add a +1 bonus to its Morale. While this is in effect, the Unit can’t use any Defensive Tactics or Withdraw; nor can it use the Defensive or Cautious Strategies. If using such a tactic or strategy, you immediately switch to the standard tactic or strategy.
  • Rake: The Unit increases the damage it deals by 1.
  • Regeneration: The Unit regains a number of hit points equal to half its regeneration value each Ranged or Melee phase. When an Unit with regeneration is reduced to 0 hp, it is defeated only if at least one enemy Unit survives at the end of that phase to finish off the regenerating creatures. Outside of battle, the Unit regains a number of hit points equal to half its regeneration value each hour.
  • Rend: The Unit increases the damage it deals by 1.
  • Rock Throwing: The Unit can make ranged attacks. In the Ranged phase, it deals +4 points of damage.
  • Significant Defense: The Unit has a significant defense such as immunity to non-magical weapons or numerous immunities and/or resistances. Increase its AC by 10, but only against armies that can’t overcome those defenses. In some cases, the GM might rule that an Unit is simply undefeatable by an enemy Unit because of its defenses.
  • Backstab (Thief/Spy): The Unit increases its OM by 1 when making an ambush, when using the Expert Flankers tactic, or on the phase after using the False Retreat tactic.
  • Magic Resistance: The Unit increases its AC by 6 against armies with the spellcasting ability.
  • Spellcasting: If an Unit’s units can use magic (from either spell-like abilities or actual spellcasting), increase its OM and AC by the spell level of the highest-level spell the individuals can cast. If any of the Unit’s offensive spells has a range greater than touch, the Unit can make ranged attacks.
  • Teleportation: The Unit ignores the Defense of fortifications. It automatically succeeds at checks to Withdraw. Ethereal travel and similar effects also grant this ability. An Unit with teleportation can travel to any hex on the same day (its speed is irrelevant and not hampered by difficult terrain).
  • Tracking: The Unit adds its Unit HD to Morale checks to prevent an Unit from using the withdraw tactic and to its AC to prevent ambushes. It reduces the damage it deals in fog by one quarter instead of one half.
  • Trample: The Unit increases its OM by 1.
  • Undead: The Unit is immune to disease, fear, paralysis, and poison. Its AC increases by 2.
  • Weapon Specialization (Warriors): Once per battle, increase the Unit’s OM for either ranged or melee attacks by 2.
  • Shapeshifting: Once per battle, the Unit may gain the aquatic, amphibious, climb, infravision, or flight special abilities. The Unit can end this ability in any later phase.

PCs in Mass Combat

In addition to the option of your PCs being commanders in your armies, the GM may have you fight smaller groups of enemies before or even during a battle in which your armies clash with the enemy (taking out enemy Commanders, specialty units, or resources). For example, your PCs might attack an evil necromancer and fight your way through his tower to confront him directly and defeat him while your army battles the undead horde outside the tower.

Alternatively, your PCs could use potent spells (such as cloudkill, control water, or earthquake) to alter battlefield conditions in your favor. These possibilities let you use your characters to directly affect the outcome of a battle without forcing you to sit out on an adventure opportunity by personally commanding an army.

If your PCs win the small-scale combat or dramatically affect the battlefield with magic, increase your army’s AC and OM by +4 for that battle, or penalize your Units by –4 if you lose. At the GM’s discretion, your PCs’ failure or victory might have other effects on your armies as well, such as temporarily granting an additional tactic, altering the hit points of one or more armies, or granting or negating a special ability.

Mass Combat

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