More thoughts on handling big battles

I know that folks have created sub-systems for big battles that are like Fight! and such but y’know, I’d like to start with a sub-system that is modeled on Bloody Versus with a set list of bonus dice for choosing the terrain, castles in various degrees of up-keep and size and other advantages like home turf, distance from supply line sources and types of troops.

I played a game with my dad, his buddy and a good friend of mine tonight and there were lots of battles and such as we rocked all over Westeros.

Anyway, a bigger write-up for that game is-a-comin’ but that was my first BW-related thought, “Man, I want a Bloody Versus list for battles,” mainly because that kind of list would be way easier to create than a whole new sub-system.

That’s…brilliant, actually. I’ll have a think for a day or so and get back to you. I was going to use Mouse Guard for it, but now that you’ve mentioned this…most interesting.

I think what I’d need is a way to easily and quickly calculate damage to the army based on how many successes you win over your opponent, with doubling their successes being a total rout, advantages for various things listed above and maybe some room to add a helping die through a Fight! conflict or even Range and Cover.

Basically, I don’t want war to replace the sub-systems but to encourage it.

When you DOW to negotiate terms after a battle, you get the number of successes you won the battle by added to your Body of Argument.

Anyway, something to think about, I think I will run the Burning Wheel ala Westeros at Burning Con and test some of this stuff.

For Westeros you should call the mechanic A Clash of Kings.

A Storm of Swords and A Feast For Crows are also on the table there. :wink:

Check out Burning Empires for a similar idea to yours: battles as ‘duels’ with helping dice, positioning, etc.

Judd, it sounds like you want a midpoint between a full-on subsystem like Fight! (or Battle! :slight_smile: ) and a single-roll resolution like Bloody Vs.

Why not do like the old Haggling rules, and do up to three rounds? Only combine it with Bloody Vs, and have an attack pool and a defense pool for each side.

Factoring advantage dice for each side’s A&D pools could come from things similar to the standard Bloody Vs list.

Successes over enemy defense could let you do things like capturing important leaders from the other side, as well as inflicting straight-up casualties.


Good suggestions, folks.

I will post some ideas later.

Someone posted something recently about including a Resources versus test for battles, maybe as a linked test. Maybe a preliminary Resources test to determine the size of your forces? After all, wars are fought and won with money…

I believe that was in a thread which unfortunately got ganked by database problems. Thor also had an excellent post outlining how medieval warfare worked, with regards to hiring up standing armies and calling in vassals to fight for you. Unfortunately, all those words lost, like tears in the rain.

Could have a set of modifiers, with each one potentially giving one side or the other a advantage die to the dice pool.

Fortification & heavy arms
Terrain & position
Troop composition (archers v. calvary advantage would depend on range and other factors)
training & discipline
intelligence & communications
Morale & Supplies




Clash of Kings

The following are circumstances that will give bonus dice to the Strategy roll that will decide the battle.

Numbers on the Field
More Troops: +1D
2X the number of Troops: +2D
More than double: +3D

Hedged Manor +1
Entrenched, Fortified Hill +2D
Wooden Fort +2D
Castle +3D (Enemy can only gain a maximum of +1D for Numbers on the Field when you are safe within a Castle, Fortress or Well Kept Walled City until the walls are breached).
Fortress or Well Kept Walled City +4D (King’s Landing, Casterly Rock, Winterfell, The Wall)

Archers, Infantry and Cavalry, etc.
Right Troops for the Terrain +1D (sure footed mountain knights and archers in the Eyrie or atop The Wall, armored cavalry in the southern plains, Dothraki cavalry in the steppes, lightly armored Ironmen at sea, etc.)
Right Troops for the Weather +1D

Home Territory +2D
Choice of Field +2D
Warlord has a reputation concerning battle-prowess +1D

Linked Tests or Helping Dice
Orate check for a well-wrought speech
Resources check for fresh provisions
Forage for fresh provisions
Appropriate Weapon for taking part in the battle (must roll at least Bloody Versus to survive battle, win or lose, the Helping Dice still get added to the Strategy roll. A successful Fight! against a named NPC nullifies the need for a post-battle Die of Fate roll.)
Tactics to lead a group into battle
Strategy to help plan the battle from the officer’s tent
Appropriate –wise to offer your inside knowledge

For each dragon large enough to have a rider who is on your side offers 1 grey die that explodes. This should be a different color die from the rest of your pool. If the die comes up as a 1, the dragon or the rider are wounded and cannot take part in the next battle.

Roll a Die of Fate for any named NPC’s on both sides. On a 1, they are dead.

Army has a Steadfastness, calculated just like Health in determining PTGS based on the average of the General’s Strategy + Will with a +1 for every one of the following skills the General has: Logistics, Tactics, Strategy Games and Appropriate Wises. Steadfastness is the army’s morale and physical condition.

Damage to Opposing Army
Superficial: The opposing army has taken won this battle and controls the field but much of the army will return to fight another day. With an ob1 Strategy roll, the general can gather the army together again, beginning the battle again. +1 to NPC’s Die of Fate rolls. Re-calculate the above modifiers based on the new circumstances.

Light: The opposing army was driven from the field and suffered some losses but with an ob1 Strategy roll they can be brought back together to fight again in this war.

Midi:The opposing army was driven from the field and suffered losses but with an ob2 Strategy roll they can be brought back together.

Severe: The opposing army took harsh losses and were driven from the field but with an ob3 Strategy roll they can be gathered together to fight again in this war. -1 to all NPC’s Die of Fate rolls.

Traumatic: The opposing army suffered brutal losses and were driven from the field but with an ob4 Strategy roll whatever’s left can be gathered together to fight again in this war.

Mortal: The army has suffered catastrophic losses, having been routed from the field. There is nothing left to gather. All named NPC’s are either dead or captured. The opposing general who led the victory can use any additional successes to spare any named NPC’s who the Die of Fate proclaims dead.

I wish I could find my copy of The Flower of Battle.

Anyway, that is my first swipe. Comments and critiques are welcome.

The Wall should be a special exception. It should be plus +5D and negate all opponent “Numbers on the Field” bonuses.

Also, one side should get +1D if the commanding lord wields a Valyrian steel blade and his opponent does not.

I like Steadfastness, but can both sides take damage? A bloody victory can be a defeat in its own way as the Romans taught King Pyrrhus.

I have notes I just jotted down during my commute that I’ll post up in a bit that will make the procedures a little more clear.

  1. How do you determine each sides’ forces?
  2. Also, wondering about the give and take between Strategy and Command…the rules as written don’t acknowledge Command skills in the field (except for the bonus about a war leader).
  3. Would Fey armies get some kind of bonus? Luke’s article about “Elves at War” suggests that these races would go through similar numbers easily.

I’m also wondering wondering if anyone ever posted the modifiers/weapons for a Mouse Guard Battle hack that is mentioned here all the time.

In the books, at least, dragons are presented as a nuclear option. I’m unaware of any battle involving dragons lost by the side with dragons, and I think Aegon showed up on Westeros with quite a small army and then devastated the much larger forces of the Stormking and Harren with his three dragons.

I’d be tempted to say that adult dragons cannot be defeated in the course of ordinary battle, and PCs will have to face it directly (somehow) or come up with some clever plot to remove it from the equation.

  1. For me, this is depending on gathering your troops, calling your bannermen, which would be a circles test. The numbers would be dependent on the setting.

  2. Command will offer key FoRK dice and it will act as the starting Steel stat (to be shown in an upcoming post).

  3. Yes! I was thinking about that exact post too! I’m concentrating on Westeros right now but it would not be difficult to have rules tweaks for different stocks. For example, the Army’s Steadfastness stat is going to be Strategy + Logistics/2 + applicable FoRK’s. I think with Dwarves, they can use Resources instead of Logistics…or maybe even Greed if the army is gathering to take resources.

I am considering the dragons or their riders only get wounded on a 1 if there is another dragon in battle.

Thanks, good stuff.

I feel like the Judd’s grey die that you can’t really kill, only remove temporarily, works pretty well for that.

Beyond that, I think a lot of their value is against fortifications. Not sure how to represent that other than “right troops for the terrain,” though.


If I have Grey Strategy, are all these modifiers Grey, too?