Adapting MG or BE mass battle system for A Song of Ice and Fire?

(I plan to cross post this over on the big purple boards as well, just to get as much feedback as possible)

As I’ve mentioned before maybe, I’ll be running a Song of Ice and Fire game, using Burning Wheel as the engine. For most things my “conversion” is working out fine (and I plan to use the Hose Creation mechanics in ASIF RPG for the roleplaying goodness therein).

My problem is, mass battles. Like, it’ll come up probably in our campaign, based on what my players are likely to play. And I’d like to use something I have rules for rather than make them up whole cloth (plus, I like scripting). And I don’t want to adapt the rules in ASIF (which I don’t think are that good for mass combat).

With that in mind, I’d like to adapt either MG’s mass battle system, or Firefight! from BE. Question is, to simulate the fights we see, which one is more “fitting” for doing so? What are your opinions on them as systems in and of themselves? I have used Firefight maybe three times; MG, never.

Thoughts? Adaption hints or tips?

In one of my first somewhat longterm BW campaigns we were heading toward a big climactic battle and we ended up going with Mouse Guard’s system. We were more lenient with skills, instead of the normal 2 that Mouse Guard allows for a given conflict. For the most part we just allowed any skill that would make sense for a given action.

I remember that it worked out pretty well and we were able to zoom in and out on the battlefield (and its various fronts) pretty easily from round to round.

The Mouse Guard battle system is quite simple and macro; use it if you want to “set the stage” broadly and quickly. (I haven’t played through Firefight!, I suspect it’s a lot more involved.)

In a Mouse Guard battle, you’re limited to four actions: Attack, Defend, Feint, and Maneuver. This is pretty easy to narrate through. It has the added benefit of being able to “zoom in” so that you can give a character a personal scene during the battle. For instance, framing a scene that gives the characters a short-term objective, possibly netting them a +1D or +1s on that action’s roll. You could even let them earn this bonus on a Feint vs. Attack or Defend vs. Feint, representing a character trying to salvage a little piece out of an overwhelming situation.

I’d maybe give each player control of an action, as in Mouse Guard, except that it represents the band of soldiers that they’re fighting with.

Interesting. Since I’ve never tried MG, I’ve been thinking it must work out just fine.

I suppose, for example, it’s okay to make several things that are “tracked” in the House Creation for ASIF bonuses, right? Like, if you outnumber the enemy, or your troops are trained better and the like? I don’t have my MG book handy at the moment…

I would use Mouse Guard “weapons” for those. Weapons give you specific bonuses to different actions. Check it out here! For instance, superior numbers might give you extra dice to Attack and Feint (because you have more troops you can waste on a diversion) while improved training could give you an extra success for Maneuver and Defend. If multiple advantages apply, you choose one of them to lean on for that round, which means that you get its bonuses to the appropriate actions.

I remember definitely taking into account some of that stuff. Some was just used as a bonus disposition and some things were used as weapons for different actions.

Interesting! That would take into account better the idea of having different troop types, actually (since that’s a big part of the House Creation rules). Thanks for that! I’ll have a look at the MG rules today and tomorrow with that in mind.

Oh, duh! Army size isn’t an advantage, it’s the basis of your Disposition.

And Stan, you actually took it to a great place I didn’t think of: using troop types as weapons. So Cavalry might give you bonuses to some actions, whilst Infantry gave it to others. So choosing a weapon means that you’re sending those troops out as the main thrust of your attack, focusing on them. Bringing them to the foreground, if you will.

Yeah, that’s what I’m going for. Even more, having looked just now at the rules for multiple characters in a conflict, it’s obvious that bringing a troop type to the front means a particular character might be leading them, which makes the rolls easy, especially with the “spread actions in the volley amongst the characters.” Actually, it’s perfect; it means no one can hide, and everyone has to participate!

Using Mouse Guard conflict in Burning Wheel for a naval battle:

There are some battle rules posted on the wiki…!

Link leads to nothing, I’m afraid.

the battle page is there. it works if you copy the link and paste it into your browser… not sure why

though i wrote the battle rules with deliverator, and had a lot of fun playing them, they aren’t really central to what BW is about. when not playing Burning Kingdoms-style gm-less play, i much prefer using linked tests of logistics and strategy rolls, then narrowing down to tactics rolls in the BW Gold range-and-cover for small scale skirmishes, trading off manuevers if you’ve got multiple players in one team. it works much better than Battle! which was designed before Gold, for use with a very unique gm-less game hack.

westeros style battles are very easy to emulate using BW Gold as written. i’ve been playing as a mercenary company commander for 36 sessions now and have never found them lacking. the rules for Range and Cover, supplimented by logistics for supplies, strategy for troop movement, command for troop moral, instruction for troop training, and tactics for skirmishes has been very satisfying.

The page title is Battle! and not Battle. Vbulletin’s autolinker appears to have moved the ! outside of the link text. Jonathan, I edited your post and fixed it, hope you don’t mind.

I was also working on a mass combat system for BE at one point, simply called ‘Mass Combat’.

An interesting idea…I’ll think on it.

This is gloriously awesome. I am totally using these rules when I come back to an ongoing campaign I’m running.

I’ve got an idea for a campaign that I’ve been sitting on for a while and am planning to pitch to my group once our Apocalypse World game finishes up; this will be most handy.

I also like how these rules make the Soldiering skill suddenly super-valuable.