Armies, how to make them?

Ok, here is some background: :slight_smile:

PC is a prince that wants to depose his mad father and put his brother on the throne. One of the suggestions on how to do this is a frontal assault on the city using rebels and mercenaries. I was just wondering how to use armies in BWG? How do we give dice to different battalion compositions and how does the commander skill work in conjunction with this?

My thoughts were that all battalions are a set size for simplicity.

Give the battalions dice on the quality of the troops. (Peasants would be 2D troops, Peasants with higher quality gear would be 3D and so on)

Also the command skill could be used to prevent routing by a failed steel test by the troops when faced with heavy losses.

Does this sound like something that could work? I would appreciate any input on this.

Thank you.

You could absolutely do as you are doing and make a kind of mini-game out of it. I believe Matt has done this and will likely chime in soon to provide a link.

Or you could just have a Versus Command test with troops and castles and such being bonus dice.

Maybe you could finagle the DoW system for something like this? Instead of a Body of Argument, you’d have like your Army Cohesion or something, and use the relevant skills as your different actions. That way you’d have something to hang all your tests on, and still have opportunities for hesitation, Steel tests, and what have you.

In a BW game a few years back we hacked a bit of Mouse Guard’s conflict rules in to do a war. It worked pretty well. We weren’t super-strict with what skills could be used for which actions as long as the narration fit. It worked out pretty well and it let us play with compromises since war is often costly to both sides.

Bloody Versus w/ armies?

The standard BW advice is to focus on what’s happening with the player characters, rather than their troops. What information do they receive? Who are they interacting with? Do their beliefs have anything to say on the matter? A mass battle is a conflict, but it’s so vast that in many ways it’s just a particularly tense and dangerous environment. The GM determines most of what happens by fiat, much as they would for political events in an urban intrigue campaign.

Having said that, several different attempts have been made over the years.

  1. Burning Kingdoms, I think had a mass battle mechanic, wrapped inside BE-like metagame; that’s on the wiki.

  2. I’ve made ‘Mass Combat’, which tries to focus on the actions of the players.

  3. Countercheck has made ‘Burning Banners’. Hopefully he’ll weigh in with a link.

Very much still a work in progress, and currently not actually functional, but a few playtests with most of the advanced features shut off actually worked quite well =) I’m rewriting it to work slightly differently, but the core will be the same. Slow progress.

Here’s a link to the most recent, non-functional version, if you’re interested:

Thank you guys for some excellent replies. Will definitely discuss these points with my friends and figure out how to to this.

Love the game btw. Last session we were on the brink of dying for 3 hours and when we were done we were all heavily wounded. I have never experienced roleplaying like that. We were all sweating at the end of the session.

Consider looking at how Burning Empires does battles, with an emphasis on disposition and Figures of Note. I don’t have it on me, or I’d point out–wait a sec…

The Firefight sheet probably tells you enough to get the gist, and you just insert appropriate BW stuff in place of BE stuff. (It would help to have the rules for unit, individual, close-combat, and specialist actions so that you can find the BW equivalent/parallel.)


Ha! I am so predictable. I actually like aspects of Fuseboy’s Mass Combat system better than the one I co-wrote with gooderguy.

That said…

Do not do this. You’d be reinventing the (Burning) Wheel in a pretty serious way. That’s exactly what we did five years ago when we wrote our Battle! system (back when Fight still had an exclamation point after it). We did it very carefully and deliberately and entirely rewrote Firefight for the fantasy setting.

I also recommend against mucking about with the DoW rules. Again, our Battle! thing is Just Better than that, as is Fuseboy’s. It’s on the wiki.

The MG-style conflict thing I could see working, but personally I’d be frustrated by having only four moves. (Not that I dislike MG! I <3 MG the most! I just would feel weird about having only four options in a BW extended conflict.)

But, MOST IMPORTANTLY, remember the following:

BW is about the characters’ Beliefs. Unless those Big B’s are actually directly pointed at leading the army to victory, and the PCs are actually in a position of real leadership over the entire attacking unit… don’t do it. Just use your power of GM to introduce events into the fiction of the battle scene that challenge the PCs’ Beliefs.

(Remember, we created Battle! for Burning Kingdoms, which is a campaign style that all but guarantees that the PCs will each be commanding their own army.)

Another thing that can make using Battle! tough in a regular BW campaign is that, if you have more than about 3 PCs, too many people will be left with not enough to do during the Battle! sequence. (And I highly recommend against breaking up into multiple teams for your first spin.)


Lots of great tips here and I thank you all… Think I will break the PCs off into a commando unit or something then and rather hit them with something smaller scale that challenges Beliefs and so forth like Deliverator mentioned…