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Old 10-10-2018, 01:26 PM   #10
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: What would be the best way to stage a mass battle?

I've done giant battles in TFT & GURPS from time to time. I'm going to try to organize some ways I have done in in levels of simplification:


LEVEL ZERO - NO SIMPLIFICATION:
I have used the full TFT and GURPS rules, with individual details for every single person in the battle - all different stats, specific equipment and damage and so on. If you're new to the system, it would be overwhelming. For me, after years playing the games, I was able to keep track of it and enjoyed it, but it was still a lot to keep track of and it took a long time and players involved had a long time to wait before their PC had anything to do, though you can also let players choose what many/all of the NPCs on their own side do.

Tip: Organizing the troops into units that will likely stay together and/or have visual clues on their counter (e.g. their ID number is the same color) that they're in the same group and therefor all their stats are on the same condensed/organized sheet of paper makes looking up stats for someone easy.


LEVEL ONE - COOKIE CUTTER TROOPS:
If you decide that many of the troops can be handled as if they all had the same stats & equipment, that can cut out the part about needing to check the DX on spear orc #12, etc. That can speed things a lot but of course sacrifices having individuality.

If you care (like I tend to) about individuality, you can take the cookie cutter sheets as approximations, and if any clone troops become interesting or get attention during play by doing something or interacting with the PCs, then you can detail those troops as desired (i.e. I think it helps immersion and rationalization to have it that the clone sheets do not mean that the NPCs are really all identical - we're just agreeing to resolve the battle as if they were, especially when they are only fighting each other).


LEVEL TWO - FAST COMBAT AWAY FROM THE MAJOR CHARACTERS
I have devised various systems for resolving combat between troops that are being treated as fuzzy examples of a type.

A) One way I have had a lot of success with is to take the typical types and actually play out some fights between them, and record the results in terms of losses and how long it took. Then I put those in a table, with the result that I can roll one die on a table to get the result of action between those types of foes, in terms of who falls and how long that took. I sometimes pad the times a bit (especially in GURPS) to reflect that real fighters won't just attack non-stop, but will take time between clashes to look for an opening, etc.

B) Another way is to use a skirmish wargame/miniatures system for the low-detail figures fighting each other, but specify a cookie-cutter sheet for them for when they fight the more detailed characters, and play that out using TFT.

C) Another way is to use some wargame system or something like the GURPS Mass Combat rules and convert groups of the low-detail figures on the table to that system and use it to determine the results, and convert that back to TFT scale as a rate that casualties are occurring for those parts of the table.

For the PCs and notable/detailed characters and actions that are important/interesting, though, I use the full system, including any low-detail figures that fight detailed figures.


LEVEL THREE - GM ASSESSMENT AWAY FROM THE MAJOR CHARACTERS
Other TFT/GURPS GMs I have seen run large battles tend to do this, and I've done it though I prefer level 2. They play out the combat that involves PCs or interesting NPCs in detail using the full system, but the masses of other figures they just look at the map, think about how it is likely to unfold, roll some dice to see if anything exceptional seems to be happening, and move and fell a few NPCs here and there, without really looking much at stats or taking any notes about it.


MOOK METHOD:
As for "mook" rules where you give most people 1 hit point... I don't do that unless I want to make the detailed characters into superheroes, since that tends to have that sort of effect.

However I do roleplay NPC reactions to injury and danger, so I do have them often retreat, run away, and fall and not get up when wounded rather than fighting to the death.
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