When I posted Mass Combat for The Black Hack Saturday, I got some great ideas and feedback from Joel Priddy and Bob Bersch on G+. I tried to link to the discussion on G+, but WordPress or Google have some issue with that. Go figure.

Feedback and Combat Options

Joel thought that the Combat Factor should be more like the TBH distance rules. A great idea! From his comments:

Opposing force is:

Much Smaller (x6) "Piece of cake!"
Smaller (x2) "We've got this!"
Equal (—) "Stay sharp!"
Larger (x1/2) "This calls for great valor!"
Much Larger (x1/6) "We're screwed!"

You could add more steps of scale if you wanted, of course.

This feels more TBH than my hack. You will find it faster, giving the GM more time to describe the action.

Combat Factor: Quick Calculation

Combat Factor can be calculated using this quick chart below:

If the opposing force is...

CF Description
Much Smaller x6 Piece of cake!
Somewhat Smaller x4 What a glorious battle!
Smaller x2 We've got this!
Equal x0 Stay sharp!
Larger X1/2 This calls for great valor!
Somewhat Larger X1/4 Steady men! Steady!
Much Larger X1/6 We're screwed!

Another point Joel brought up is that the leader doesn't take damage. He asked about a way for the leader to take damage. In small group battles, as he pointed out, groups can lose their leader and re-group under a different one.

Combat Option: Skin in the Game

When the group takes damage, the leader takes the same hit point damage personally. For example, if a Warrior led group takes 2hp damage, the Warrior takes 2 hp from his/her character sheet.

Bob helped me correct the math in my example, so I will correct my example in the PDF. He also provided an example of his own. He said it took about 10 minutes to run the combat. Bob also added a rule for shields, which is great. From his comment:

A small border town is about to be attacked by a small group of Tomb Guardians, awoken by some adventurers that have since gone on their way.

Side A: The town militia, 25 able bodied men with spears and shields. Armor 2, Hit Points 4, 1d8 damage, CSx5. They are lead by the village wise man/mayor, WIS 13, CHA 13.

Side B: 5 Elemental driven skeletal Tomb Guardians, which are 3 HD monsters. They get an average HP roll of 13, so Armor 2, HP 13, Damage 2d4, CSx2.

Side A gets a CF of 3 (so they could win.. maybe).

(If this was in a actual game I would have the defenders man their wall, which would give them advantage on defense rolls till they started taking damage (the wall is breached!!) but since this is an example no wall).

Round 1: the mayor fails the WIS test with a 16, the Tomb Guardians charge and attack. Another fail of WIS on defense with a 18. The damage rolled is 5, divided by the CF of 3 is 1 2/3, rounding to nearest is 2 points of damage, destroying the militia's shields. Their attack back fails with a 14 vs a CHA of 13.

Round 2: The militia is rocked again, rolling an 18 vs WIS. The TGs do 3 points of damage, divided by 3 is 1 point of HP on the militia. This seems to rally them and they attack back hitting with a 10. And rolling 2 points of damage.. but 2x3 for the CF is 6, minus 2 for armor is 4 on the Tomb Guardians, taking them to 9.

So lets see what changes. One fourth of the militia is down, knocking them down to 19 men and changing their CS to 4. The TGs are down to 9/13*5 or 3.4 (rounded to nearest) or 3 TGs. CS is still 2. But the CF has dropped to 2.

Round 3: The mayor continues the rally, helping the militia avoid the reeling Tomb Guardians, rolling a 7 vs WIS. And then rolling a 7 was CHA for the attack! Hitting them for 5 damage. Times 2 for CF and the TGs are glowing rubble at the militia's feet. Well done lads!

The shields were a nice touch. It's also gratifying to get outside confirmation of how a system works. So, here is another combat option for you.

Combat Option: Shields Will Be Splintered

When the group takes damage, the entire group may sacrifice their shields in place of taking damage.

There was also discussion about pooling resources and having other party members contribute to the conflict as individuals. I assumed that they would be treated as a separate faction, but I never stated that in the rules. So, thanks to Joel, here's the last Combat Option.

Combat Option: I Am Not Chopped Liver

If a member of the characters' party is not leading a group, they can join the fray as a separate faction. As a separate faction, their Combat Scale is always 1.

The GM will adjudicate how damage is shared by the group led by one character and the second character fighting as their own faction. For example, the Conjurer in the party decides to join the fray on his own. There is a Warrior led group of hirelings fighting against a band of skeletons. The Conjurer is always Combat Scale 1. The GM quickly computes that the skeletons and hirelings are both CSx3. This gives the Conjurer a Combat Factor of 1/2. (Yikes!) In the batter, the skeleton strike for 4 hit points of damage. Since the skeletons are fighting two different factions (the hirelings and the Conjurer), the damage is shared, 2 points of damage to the hirelings and 2 points to the Conjurer. The Conjurer has a Combat Factor of 1/2, so dividing 2 by 1/2 yields 4 points of damage. Raining down a fireball on the skeletons, it is calculated to do 20 points of damage. With a CF 1/2, 10 points of damage are done to the group of skeletons. They have been burned to ashes!

Bob suggested another change, namely that certain situation provide advantage or disadvantage. For example, if the character's group is defending a keep from the walls or other well-defended position, they roll advantage to avoid damage. I tweaked the suggestion that taking advantage on one roll forces you to take disadvantage on the other roll.

Combat Option: Advantage and Disadvantage

In play, the player describes how the character is directing the group to gain an advantage to attack or avoid damage. If the GM accepts it, advantage is granted. However, the other roll will be rolled at a disadvantage while the advantage exists. For example, the character directed his hirelings to make a full running charge at a group of skeletons. The GM rules that this provides advantage to the hirelings' attack roll for one roll only. This means that the hirelings will roll disadvantage to avoid damage once.

Thanks to Joel and Bob! I hope these options