2010-08-31 Mass Combat

I got the B/X Companion and read through the first half including the Mass Combat chapter. I like it. Much like the M20 Mass Combat rules, units are based on the stats of a single creature. There are some differences, however. I was interested in these differences because we had used the M20 rules for a chapter-ending battle in my beloved Alder King campaign.

  1. Unlike the M20 Combat Scale resulting in ever decreasing efficiency of the unit as it grows, the Companion has no such thing. In an abstract way, every unit member gets to contribute.
  2. Unlike the M20 attack roll, the Companion rules offer a nice table of HD vs AC telling you the percent multiplier for damage done. You roll once for damage, so chance still plays a big role, but it is no longer as random as before. My players will appreciate this.
  3. The Companion rules have lots of info on how to use morale, fleeing, rallying, battle standards, defending you homeland, your home town, numerical superiority, and the like. As we had used D&D 3.5 there were no morale values available and I hadn’t thought of using it. My mistake! Next time, the commander’s charisma will be much more important.
  4. I liked how my rules allowed the dwarven barbarian to charge into the lizard men and do full power-attacks dealing thirty points of damage and more, killing a lot of lizard men. The Companion rules take a different approach. Heroes deal tripple damage when attacking units, large monsters deal 10 points per HD, creatures with immunities multiply damage by five, etc. This has the drawback of abstracting the player character’s attacks away – spells in particular – but it solves the problem of the differing time scale. The rules I had used before were a bit hazy on spell effects at this time scale. The Companion rules abstracts the time scale away and doesn’t talk about spells with area effects. I’m guessing that the spells will always hit, units making no saving throws, and you can cast three spells per clash.

It makes me want to switch from D&D 3.5 to Labyrinth Lord and use these Mass Combat rules!

The only typo or error I saw in a simple reading was one of the examples saying 35% at some point but the formula listing × 0.38 instead. I’m very happy with the text quality. Well done!

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