Friday, February 20, 2009

Hordes of the SAVAGE Things

Has anybody else considered using Hordes of the Things (or other tabletop rules) to resolve mass combat on the tabletop in their role-playing campaigns?

Since I first started playing role-playing games I always thought it would be awesome to have characters rise to a station where they could command full units or armies in battle. Around 1985/86 I bought AD&D Battlesystem when I first saw it. I don’t think I ever convinced anyone to ever play it with me. I certainly never got any D&D characters to lead armies…

We did play a lot of Mech Warrior/Battletech in High School – might have had characters leading lances (platoons/troops of 4 mechs), but that’s not QUITE the same. Maybe if we had gotten to playing Battleforce… or I think there was a strategic level game where you could play out planetary invasions.

Always wanted to track down a copy of Sriker for Traveller so mercenary characters could play out some tabletop actions, but never could… I did pick up Invasion Earth with some megalomaniac dream of characters being involved in that…

For a while I played Warhammer Fantasy Role-play with the hope that characters might lead Warhammer units. During a few brief (…or not-so-brief) moments I even imagined characters becoming heads of state or otherwise being somehow involved in a Mighty Empires Campaign (BWA-HA-HA-Ha-Ha-ha-ha-ha… heh… yeah…)

None of these ever really got off the ground.

I’ve been playing Savage Worlds for a couple years now and it’s great for small unit actions – I’ve had characters leading small units in skirmishes. But I still dream of having characters involved in MASSIVE battles. There is a system in the core book for working out the results of a massive battle, but I’m a miniature gamer at heart, I’ve got the toys, so I want to work out the battles on the tabletop.

One system that looked like it had some hope (and still does) is
Warmaster Ancients and it’s variants (Cold War Commander, etc). Commanders order units around and have a command value between 6 and 10, which correlates nicely with the Savage Worlds skill “Knowledge: Battle” (d4 = CV6, d6 = CV7, etc – one could even say an unskilled leader could have a CV of 5, but that would be disastrous – as it should be!).

I have recently fallen in love again with Hordes of the Things - a brilliantly simple, fast-playing tabletop fantasy miniature war game. As I have also been running a Savage Worlds fantasy campaign I have been giving some thought as to how Savage Worlds Characters might influence Hordes of the Things battles (you know for when they become king of a civilized land by their own hand… been reading some Conan too…). Mostly I have looked to the Mass Battle system right out of the Savage Worlds core book.

For those not familiar HOTT is played in alternate bounds, each turn being approximately 15 minutes. Each army (or command within a “Big Battle” army) has a general that rolls a PIP (Player Initiative Points) each die turn to determine how much he can maneuver his army. The army or command is generally made up of 9-12 stands that represent units of up to a couple hundred fighting men (and/or women… and/or critters…). When a stand fights another stand (possible aided by others) each side rolls a single six sided die, tactical factors are added, results are compared and the losing side is either pushed back, flees or is destroyed – depending what the different troops types involved and whether the result simple beat or doubled their opponents roll.

So if a character was commanding an army (or sub-unit/command) they should somehow be able to influence the PIP roll. I decided they should make a Knowledge: Battle roll each turn before the PIP roll. This could be a Group Roll – if there were multiple characters acting as advisors or a council of war.

BUST: -2 to PIP roll
FAILURE: -1 to PIP roll
SUCCESS: PIP roll is unmodified
ONE RAISE: +1 to PIP roll
TWO RAISES: +2 to PIP roll
(More than two raises won’t add anymore to the PIP die)

If the General’s stand is involved in direct combat the Character will also affect the combat results as below…

Other characters (and the General) leading, or simply accompanying stands should also be able to affect the combat results of the unit they are with. So on any turn that the stands they are accompanying are involved in combat (whether in close combat, shooting or being shot at!?) they should make some sort of appropriate skill roll (fighting for blades, spears, warband, etc, Shooting for shooters, maybe stealth for sneakers, etc).

This is NOT a group roll – if multiple characters are accompanying the same unit/stand the results of their skill roll are cumulative to a min/max of -2/+2 tactical factors.

BUST- the character takes 4d6 damage and if leading the unit the unit suffers a -2 tactical factor
FAILURE - the character takes 3d6 damage and if leading the unit the unit suffers a -1 tactical factor
SUCCESS – No damage, no bonus
ONE RAISE - If the character is leading the unit, the unit receives a +1 tactical factor, no other result otherwise.
TWO RAISES - If the character is leading the unit, the unit receives a +2 tactical factor. If the character is simply accompanying the unit his heroism inspires the unit and they receive +1 tactical factor
(More than two raises won’t add anymore to the PIP die)

Combat Results – if the unit/stand a character is accompanying recoils in combat or is destroyed they must make an immediate skill roll (no modifiers if recoiling, -4 if destroyed)
BUST – 4d6 damage and captured by the enemy!
FAILURE – 3d6 damage – make a second skill roll with all appropriate modifiers; success = escape, failure = captured!
SUCCESS – 2d6 damage
RAISE – no effect
(More than two raises won’t add anymore to the PIP die)


Bennies – Bennies can be used on the skill roles and to soak any damage. They can not be used for PIP die rolls.

Other Modifiers

In the Savage Worlds Mass combat rules in the book characters get a bonus +1 for each rank above Novice (i.e. Seasoned = +1, Veteran = +2, etc). I suppose this could apply. I had kind of thought only the skill roll should apply – what does it matter what their rank is – if they’re veteran and they’ve only raised their Knowledge: Battle or Fighting to d6… serves them right…! But then I suppose it’s to represent in some way the sum total of their knowledge and experience because it wouldn’t JUST be Fighting or Knowledge: Battle that they are using….

Shaken and Wounds - I’m wondering if I should ignore shaken results and effects. In the tactical game you get to check for recovery every 6 seconds… HOTT turns are ~15minutes… maybe one could burn a benny to remove it, or try to recover on their next bound. If they fail they are -1 to all skills for that turn, then automatically recover at the end of that bound (assuming they aren’t shaken again…?). Penalties for wounds sustained should affect the characters trait rolls as per normal – hard to make those snap decisions when your bleeding from your head…

Darkness, etc…? Meh… I guess any situational modifiers could be left to the GM. I can’t think of any others I’d really use.

I might tinker with this yet… I think in the GURPS mass combat rules there combat results and survival were separate rolls and giving yourself a bonus to one affected the other – i.e. if you wanted to be rash/brave and throw yourself into the thick of it you would get a bonus to the combat results but an equal negative modifier to your survival roll or if you wanted to be cowardly you could take a negative modifier to your combat results, but were more likely to survive. I like the idea, but I also like the simple one roll above… we shall see.

Thoughts? Post a comment below!

2 comments:

Cory said...

Ha! I also had a copy of Battlesystem. I remember laying out masking tape on the basement floor, and solo gaming with the counters in the box.

In high school, Cabbage and I(and others)would play Star Fleet Battles and Battletech in study hall.

You deserve full credit for getting me into mini gaming though, via Warhammer and DBA.

Thank you.

tim said...

Well as long as you're still saying "thanks for that"! - cheers!

Don't forget The Sarnath Organ Snappers Blood Bowl team!