Quick & Dirty – Mass Combat

star_wars_hoth_battle_by_pierreloyvet-d67vnra

Copyright 2013 Lucasfilm/ ABYstyle studio
Used with Permission from Pierre Loyvet
https://www.facebook.com/loyvetartworks
http://ployvet.daportfolio.com/

So a massive battle has erupted around the player characters, and they are trying desperately to fight their way out.  Or perhaps their goal is to destroy that outpost of stormtroopers bent on razing the local colony to the ground.  Or maybe you are playing the Age of Rebellion and want to have massive conflicts that determine the fate of the galaxy!  Don’t let the game get too complicated, just keep it Quick & Dirty!

This article differs from many of the Quick & Dirty series in that it provides a Quick & Dirty sub-system for the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG instead of the normal single Quick & Dirty dice roll.  This sub-system is intended to scale to whatever size or form of warfare is required: from squad battles to conflicts involving massive fleets.  Unlike the previous Quick & Dirty – Cinematic Warfare, this article is intended to simulate battles where the players and game master each select a faction of the fray.  It is not intended to use miniatures, but instead provides a simple way to quickly simulate mass combat.

Determine the Scope of the Conflict

All mass combat in this article uses the basic concepts of the core rules, and especially minions, to simulate conflicts that are broader in scope than are usually depicted.  The first step of this system is for the group to decide the scope and scale of the conflict.  There are three levels of scope that will be detailed:  Personal Combat, Platoon Combat, and Company Combat.

Consider the standard combat rules for Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion to be Personal Combat with individuals.  All damage, weapons, and ranges are considered to be on the Personal Scale.  There may be a lot of combatants, but most characters involved roll and act separately with the exception of minions.  As the scope and scale increases, all combatants are treated as minion groups.

Platoon Combat uses the Planetary Scale for weapon damage, armor, ranges, and movement.  It is intended to be used with large groups of soldiers and combatants, often in conflict with vehicles and mechanized units.  Company and Fleet Combat involves even larger numbers of troops, squads of vehicles, and massive firepower.

It is possible to begin a conflict in one scale and change to another during game play.  This will most likely be done when player characters become involved and wish to do something heroic or foolhardy.  Try to let them, but restrict changes in scale to beginnings of Rounds only.  Too many changes in scale will drag out the length of the combat and may have other unforeseen complications.

If this becomes important, remember that Platoons commonly have a complement between 25 and 50 soldiers and Companies usually host between 50 to 200 soldiers.  Try to center the action on the player characters and a smaller number of minion groups in the immediate area.  One vehicle is often a good unit of scale for Platoon Combat, and ten will often work for Company Combat.  Use what will work best for your group and your situation.

Platoon Combat

Platoon Combat uses squads of minion groups to simplify and keep the combat cinematic in nature.  There should not be any single individual player characters, rivals, or nemeses in play on the battlefield.  Individual heroics should only be used in Personal Combat.

Platoon Combat uses the Planetary Scale as described in the Core Rules.  All weapon damages, armor, ranges, and movement should be used to reflect this.  Use the default stat block for the appropriate minion squad as if there was only one minion included.  Larger squads and platoons should increase the minion group as normal (adding skill ratings and wound thresholds, but not soak or weapon damage).

Minion Infantry should inflict Damage based upon their weapon divided by ten, unless they have an entire squad of anti-vehicle weapons.  Any anti-vehicle weapon that uses Planetary Scale damage should be treated as normal.  Infantry should also divide Soak by ten to determine the equivalent Armor rating.  All ratings should be rounded to the nearest whole number.  Weapons that inflict zero Damage can still inflict damage based upon successful skill rolls, they will simply not have a bonus to damage based upon the weapons used by that squad.

Vehicles may be treated as individual entities for Platoon Combat.  Since they already use the Planetary Scale for combat, there should be very little conversion required.  Standard minion rules may be applied for groups of vehicles as desired.

Movement and Range for Platoon Combat uses the Planetary Scale.  Since the Planetary Scale is much longer than Personal Scale, all personal scale weapons must be considered Close for the purposes of this level of scope.  Movement of infantry will be considerably hampered at this scale unless Personnel Carriers are utilized.  This aspect of the combat is significantly abstracted to remain cinematic in nature.

Capitol ships should be treated as Rivals in Platoon Combat with a few exceptions.  Due to the large crew complement aboard each one, they should only gain a number of upgrades to the Agility of the gunners based upon the number of like weapons being fired.  This may change each round.  In addition, all capitol ships firing with more than one weapon will automatically gain the Auto Fire quality.  They do not suffer the customary extra difficulty die from Auto Fire.  Capitol ships can also suffer critical hits as normal for Rivals.

Player Characters can be combined with any squad or capitol ship as the players desire.  Every squad, or capitol ship, will enjoy an additional ability die upgrade for every Player Character included.  Most specialty weapons, armor, and talents should not be considered at this level of abstraction.

Company & Fleet Combat

Company and Fleet Combat uses large platoons of minion groups to simplify and keep the combat cinematic in nature.  There should not be any single individual player characters, rivals, or nemeses in play on the battlefield.  Individual heroics should only be used in Personal Combat.

Company Combat uses the Planetary Scale as described in the Core Rules.  All weapon damages, armor, ranges, and movement should be used to reflect this.  Use the default stat block for the appropriate minion platoon or vehicle squadron as if there was only one minion included.  Larger platoons, companies, and squadrons should increase the minion group as normal (adding skill ratings and wound thresholds, but not soak or weapon damage).

Movement and Range for Company Combat uses the Planetary Scale.  Since the Planetary Scale is much longer than Personal Scale, all personal scale weapons must be considered Close for the purposes of this level of scope.  Movement of infantry will be considerably hampered at this scale unless Personnel Carriers are utilized.  This aspect of the combat is significantly abstracted to remain cinematic in nature.

Capitol ships may be treated as individual entities for Fleet Combat with additional capitol ships in the fleet treated as a minion group.  Unlike Platoon Combat, they do not gain a bonus from additional gunners to their characteristics.  They follow the standard rules for minions except they gain the Auto Fire quality without the additional Difficulty die.

Since capitol ships have large arrays of weapons, they will gain a bonus to damage based upon the number of weapons being used on a single ship.  This bonus is equal to the number of additional identical weapons being fired on a single ship after the first.  This abstraction is necessary to maintain the difference in firepower between ships, such as a CR-90 and a Nebulon B.

For example, a Nebulon B has six turbo lasers that can fire upon any single target.  If these weapons are fired as an action, the Nebulon B will gain a bonus of 5 to the damage done.

Determining the Outcome

At the start of the conflict, divide the number of minion groups and rivals allied with the player characters as equally as possible amongst the players.  The Game Master will control the opposing factions and any neutral groups.  Any factions that shifts loyalties during the conflict should immediately be given or taken from the players and reassigned.

Player Characters that are placed singly into groups should be controlled by the appropriate player.  Groups that include more than one player should be played by one of the included players.  Player characters in groups that are taken out of combat should also be considered to have been taken out.  This may lead the player character to be captured, left for dead, or even possibly killed.

Design Notes – This article was inspired by various threads on the FFG Forum relating to mass combat.  I would like to thank Fjw70, Jegergryte, and Sturn for their ideas and reminding me that minion groups are perfect for mass combat.

As FFG releases more information about mass combat and capitol ships these rules may become invalid.  Please check back for updates.

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This entry was posted in AoR - Age of Rebellion RPG, EotE - Edge of the Empire RPG, Quick & Dirty and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Quick & Dirty – Mass Combat

  1. I was actually talking with Jegergryte earlier today about your take on mass combat, including the huge numbers of guns on capital ships and how that could ever possibly be handled at the table. I tooled around with some stat blocks on the new AoR stuff, using this article as a guide, and it’s coming out pretty slick.

    Nice work!

    • Fanggrip says:

      Cool, thank you for letting me know. I don’t have access to the Beta yet so I had to use the Capitol Ships from Edge of the Empire. It seemed to work pretty well for them, so I crossed my fingers. 🙂

      Please let me know if there are any issues or concerns that crop up during your sessions. More play testers means a much wider event pool.

      And thank you very much for the compliment. 🙂

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