Saturday, February 10, 2024

Humanoid Swarms for Mass Combat :: 5e D&D

I was doing research on mass combat rules for D&D 5e for …reasons… and I know there's nothing completely official. There is a 2017 Unearthed Arcana for Mass Combat [PDF] published by Wizards of the Coast. In fact, there are two PDFs for this, the other likely from 2015.

In previous editions, there were the Battlesystem rules, especially the Battlesystem 2nd Edition that I was most familiar with. These were D&D's answer to other miniatures combat rules from Ral Partha et al.

In 3rd edition, there were two books, Heroes of Battle and the Miniatures Handbook that could be used for the same purpose.

But as far as an official mass combat system for 5e, there is only the playtest UA stuff above. In my research, I stumbled upon my same question on a Reddit post from a few months back.

Posts from the dndnext
community on Reddit

And one of the commenters suggested setting up stats for large groups as swarms and then run normal combat. And they linked to a page on The Homebrewery for Humanoid Swarms. This is an interesting idea because it simply enhances the monster stat block for one humanoid and expands it to an unnumbered swarm of variable size. The sizes match monster sizes above medium; large, huge and gargantuan.

  • Commoner → Mob of Commoners
  • Pikeman → Pike Square
  • Archer → Mass of Archers
  • Bodyguard → Company of Guards
  • Hedge Witch → Coven of Witches

Another reason that this catches my eye is that one of the …reasons… or themes matching why I started searching this in the first place was that I wanted something remniscent of an old video game that I was a huge fan of growing up called Ancient Art of War on the Macintosh Plus (1985). There were three troop types in that game; knights, archers, and barbarians. Along with other rules, the combat advantage for the three types was similar to rock-paper-scissors.

  • Knights, with their heavy armor, were strong against barbarians, but too slow to deal with archers.
  • Barbarians were quick and nimble, easily crossing the battlefield to defeat archers, but fell easily to knights.
  • Archers could fire volleys of arrows and easily defeat knights, but could not hit barbarians with any accuracy.

The "swarm of humanoids" has some ideas in common with this.

  • Pikemen are clearly knights...
  • Archers, archers
  • Bodyguards are potentially barbarians (although...)

So it would be possible to use this a bit. The problem I anticipate is that you can't have a mixed squad of barbs and archers and knights in varying numbers. This was almost always a strategic way to win in Ancient Art of War. Here's some nostalgic gameplay footage I'm saving just for myself.

Bonus: Check out more along these lines with a post named mass combat belongs in the monster manual on Blog of Holding.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Pathfinder Stripped of Traces of D&D in New Rulebooks

It would be ironic that the same year that I was first instroduced to playing Pathfinder in earnest was the same year that Wizards of the Coast, in their ultimate wisdom would decide to stab themselves in confusion and cause a big controversial upheaval in the games industry by pre-releasing an update to their gaming license rules. Which in summary was going to severely hurt independent creators. There are a million blog posts about this and I don't necessarily want to rehash it here in total.

Pathfinder was very highly inspired by D&D (2nd or 3rd edition?) and borrows quite a bit of intellectual property. The possible move by Wizards seems to be tailored specifically to hit back. So the makers of Pathfinder made the proactive strategic decision to completely strip every last trace of the shared content from their rules. Read more about it at Polygon - Pathfinder stripped every last trace of D&D from its new rulebooks — even owlbears.

Monday, June 12, 2023

[Book Recommendation] Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

This book was recommended to me and I'm going to grab it through the Libby app. It was mentioned like this: Samone and his coffee plants...

Ooh, that's a memory I'd not retrieved in a while. First here's the book.

My stepbrother played in a Dark Sun campaign that I ran back in the day, and he played a Halfling Druid/Thief that had a home base just east of Gulg at a small hidden hot-spring oasis. At some point, he tried coffee and decided to grow his own along with other food for himself. This book mentioned above is about an adventurer who retired and opened a coffee shop.

I've queued this up from my library, but I may purchase a copy if I like it enough. Check it out for yourself!

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Wandering Around Droaam

My characters in Eberron are spending an extended amount of time hanging out in Droaam. Specifically they are in the realm of Kethelrax the Cunning. For various inspiration reasons, I've been gathering notes for Droaam overland travel, the different warlord factions and an extended Kobold fortress.

Specific to the campaign I nicknamed Iron & Fire, I haven't updated the listing of characters.

There is much that I could share about their adventures so far (up to 6th level) and so much more to come, but I'll end here for now. / r / dnd / r / rpg

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