Massed Battle Rules

Overview

The campaign places the party in battles of various scales. They range from individual duels, party-level battles, squad-level battles, up to massed combats. In massed combats, the characters are a small part of a much larger fighting force. Usually, the party will be in key positions of leadership and therefore influence the events of the battle strongly. This page will detail the rules governing these types of combat scenarios. There are a few key objectives of these rules:

  1. Be efficient: the rules have to allow combat actions to be resolved quickly to keep the pace of the battle moving
  2. Allow for environmental conditions to affect the battle: Things like visibility, cover, movement speed are all affected by the environment. The rules need to allow such things to influence the events.
  3. Allow for tactics to affect the battle: The rules must reward smart tactics and punish poor tactics. This allows a player’s cleverness to influence the combat and allows for hope against a superior fighting force.
  4. Allow for quality equipment to affect the battle: The rules must allow an investment in better equipment or training to influence a fighting force’s effectiveness in combat in a meaningful way.

General Rules

All combatants are grouped into combat units. These can be of any size, but are generally at least 10 men. The size of the combat groups is measured in Magnitude. Magnitude is an abstract value that measures the size of units in common units. There is no set value of 1 magnitude point equals so many men, monsters, or whatever. This allows it to scale to size of the engagement. The combat units must such that all members have similar armaments and equipment. This keeps thing simple enough to manage. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to mean all members have only one weapon.

Combat is resolved by reducing the characteristics of the combatting battle groups to two values: Attack Value (AV) and Defense Value (DV). In a combat turn, the attacking entity rolls 1d10 and adds the AV. The sum is compared to the DV of the enemy. The difference is subtracted from the defenders magnitude. These rules are taken from The Mark of the Xenos rulebook.

Working out Attack Value
  • Add 1 point for each dice of damage the unit inflicts with its weapons (if the unit is armed with multiple weapons use the weapon which deals the most damage)
  • Add 1 point for every attack beyond the first (additional weapons and twin-linked weapons count as extra attacks)
  • Add 1 point if it is using a semi-auto weapon • Add 2 points if it is using a full-auto weapon

Example:

A Horde of Imperial Guardsman is armed with lasguns and has a Magnitude of 40. The damage from a lasgun is 1d10+3 (adding 1 to the Attack Value for the one dice of damage). Because of its Magnitude of 40, the Guardsman Horde inflicts an additional 2d10 damage on all its hits, adding another 2 to its Attack value. Also as a result of its Magnitude of 40, the Horde can make 3 ranged attacks (2 extra beyond the first) adding another 2. Finally a Lasgun can fire on semi-auto adding another 1. This gives the Guardsman Horde an Attack Value of 6 (3 of for the number of its damage dice, 2 more for its extra attacks and 1 for being able to fire semi-auto).

Working out Defence Value
  • Defence is the first digit of the Horde, vehicle’s or warrior’s wounds or Magnitude (use the highest value if the unit has multiple values). For Magnitude or wound values of less than 10 (i.e. scores of 1-9) the Defence Value counts as 0.
  • If the unit has armour points, add another 1 to its Defence Value for each full 4 armour points it possesses.
  • If the unit or Horde has force fields (a very rare occurrence!), add another 1 to its Defence Value for each full 10 points of the Force Field’s rating (see page 166 in
    the Deathwatch Rulebook).

Example

A Magnitude 30 Horde of Imperial Guardsmen is wearing flak armour which provides 4 Armour Points. The Guardsmen use the first digit of their Magnitude to work out the Defence value giving them a DV of 3. They then add another point as they have 4 points of armour giving them a final DV of 4.

Morale

The morale of a fighting force heavily influences its combat effectiveness. The following rules enforce this idea

  • A unit must make a basic willpower test when reduced by 25% their original strength.
    • If the unit is under command, then the leader makes a command test instead using the standard command test. Failure by 0, 1 or 2 degrees means the unit is unable to act until rallied by a command test. Failure by 3 or more degrees means discipline is broken and the unit flees. Success by > 2 degrees means they rally with a vengeance. All command test on this group are modified by 10*DoS.
  • A unit must make a basic willpower test when reduced by 50% their original strength. This test is at -10.
    • If the unit is under command, then the leader makes a command test -10 instead. Failure by 0, 1 or 2 degrees means the unit is unable to act until rallied by a command test. Failure by 3 or more degrees means discipline is broken and the unit flees. Success by > 2 degrees means they rally with a vengeance. All command test on this group are modified by 10*DoS.
  • A unit must make a basic willpower test when reduced by 50% their original strength. This test is at -20.
    • If the unit is under command, then the leader makes a command test -20 instead. Failure by 0, 1 or 2 degrees means the unit is unable to act until rallied by a command test. Failure by 3 or more degrees means discipline is broken and the unit flees. Success by > 2 degrees means they rally with a vengeance. All command test on this group are modified by 10*DoS.

Environmental Effects

The combat environment will affect several key aspects of battle, which are discussed below. Note that some of these might be obvious and others may take the application of skill to uncover.

  • Movement speed: Each combat unit has a basic movement. Some engagements may use this attribute with more precision than others. However, charging across a muddy field up straight up a sand dune will impede movement. These may be factored in when moving units through a battlefield.
  • Space: Some battlefields are constricting, allowing only so many individuals to move or occupy a given space. If the battle field is a series of tight and twisting passages, then a 1,000 man battle group will not fit effectively. Small units must be used.
  • Visibility: smoke, fog, snow, sandstorms all reduce visibility. Such conditions will limit the ability of troops to target at a given range. They may alter tactics and make entire units ineffective. For example, if a squad of riflemen are in cover along a tree line and are supposed to provide long-range cover support, they may be unable. In this damn fog they can’t make out friend from foe.
  • Cover: An environment may have an abundance of protective cover, or it may be sparse. The quality and abundance of armor may also vary. In some cases, cover for a magnitude 20 squad may be available. Attacking with a unit with > 20 magnitude means that some individual will not benefit from cover. In general, every 4 points of Armor Rating (AR) results in an additional DV. If the entire unit is unable to use the available cover, then the AR is reduced by the proportion of the magnitude out of cover. Battlefields with abundant cover can also conceal units better. The availability of cover influences how easy it is to hide a heavy weapons team for an ambush.
  • Hazards: Some environments present hazards to the combatants. If there are plasma reactors around that are hit by stray rockets, they may explode. Firing through the hull of a station could risk decompression.

Tactics

Each round the commander of a given unit can call upon the following tactics. This requires a command test. A commander can command a large unit equal to their Command Skill bonus value X10. If a PC has Command trained, that will be their full Fellowship bonus. If Command is not trained, it will be 1/2 the Fellowship bonus. For each Degree of Difficulty beyond the characters’ Command ability imposes a -10 penalty on the test. For example, if a PC has a Fellowship of 42 and has Command as a trained skill, then they can command a unit of up to magnitude 40 without penalty. If he/she commands a unit of magnitude 55, all tests would be at a -20 for two degrees of difficulty.

The degrees of success/failure affect the results of the test. We need to flesh this out in the context of each tactic below.

  • Reorganize: Break a large group into small groups, or combing groups into a larger one. This requires a successful command test. The size of the largest group involved will determine the difficulty. We’ll start out using the modifiers for size in table 9-9 (pg.249)
  • Scout: Send a small detachment ahead of the unit to recon. (Suggestions for rules?)
  • Tactical Move: Reduce movement but take advantage of cover.
  • Fire!: Standard attack. Take full advantage of AV.
  • Take Cover!: Take a defensive posture. Add cover value to DV but reduce AV by same amount.
  • Suppress: Reduces the suppressed units AV by value of damage that would have been inflicted. Also reduces magnitude by 1/2 the damage but with a maximum of 4.
  • Fall back!: Withdraw with covering fire. (Suggestions for rules?)
  • Overrun!: Charge an enemy position and break out the melee weapons. AV is recomputed for melee weapon characteristics. The overrun unit is not capable of any ranged attacks. Any attacks on either unit engaged in close combat deal damage all units equally. Full damage is recorded
  • Flank: A flanked enemy will be unable to use cover as effectively, or at all. Depending on the circumstances, reduce the DV of the flanked enemy.
  • Combine Fire: On a successful command of the units involved, they may fire as one on a common target and combine their AV. They must be within effective command range of the commanding officer. Note: the larger the magnitude or number of units, the more difficult it is to combine fire. Note: the battlefield must be large enough to hold multiple units.
  • Other tactics?

Equipment

The point of this section is to make sure that investments in finer equipment for combat units has an effect on the game. Things like the reliability of firearms, the level of upkeep on transports, the quality of armor should affect the unit’s performance in the field. This can be fleshed out as we go.

  • Heavy Weapons
    • Designed to inflict massive damage over a wide area.
    • Any weapons with explosive damage type (X) inflict an extra damage by adding 2 points to AV for every attack. (2*(Num. attacks))
    • Any weapon with a blast value inflicts the blast value of damage on top of any normal damage inflicted
    • Heavy weapons must be faced and take time to repositioned. Unless otherwise noted, heavy weapons must be braced to fire effectively.
    • Heavy weapons slow down unit movement across the battlefield. Unless otherwise noted, movement is at 1/2 the normal rate.
  • Flame Weapons
    • Flame weapons are fearsome over short ranges. In massed combat, if a unit finds itself within range of flame weapons they are in trouble.
    • Flame weapons have very short ranges and that should be reflected in combat
    • Flame weapons deal 3*(Num. attacks) damage when computing AV

Massed Battle Rules

The Vault of Dreams TheTaleWeaver