Fight A Dungeons & Dragons War With The Mass Combat Rules for 5th Edition

Fight A Dungeons & Dragons War With The Mass Combat Rules for 5th Edition

After being cut from the Dungeon Master's Guide the mass combat rules have made their way into a free online supplement.

The designers of Dungeons & Dragons' Fifth Edition have released a free supplement with a playtest version of their Battlesystem mass combat rules. The rules allow for a few hundred foes to go up against each other in an abstracted, grid-based battle using the standard statistics found in the Monster Manual or Player's Handbook. The designers caution that the rules as they're written right now are a playtest version, saying that they're "written in pencil, not ink."

The rules use the same d20-based combat core as the standard D&D game, focusing on "stands" of ten soldiers each organized into "units." Each stand uses the same statistics as a single combatant of that type, essentially abstracting combat out to a slightly larger degree. Some rudimentary rules account for positioning units, fighting in formation, and armies breaking or routing from low morale. Heroes and magic get their own rules, showing how various spells and spellcasters, as well as giant monsters, might perform on the battlefield.

It's clear the rules aren't for the kinds of epic clashes you see in properties like The Lord of the Rings, since the scale is rather small, but it'll suffice for the kind of skirmishes a border baron or count gets into with their neighbors - conflicts involving a few hundred participants on either side. For anything bigger, for now, you're out in the cold unless you'd like to spend a whole day slugging it out.

You can download the rules right here or see Wizards of the Coast's post on the rules release here.

If you're interested in what has changed during development, go check out news from last year on the D&D mass combat system.

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I hope they choose different artwork. Right now it looks like the adventurers are hiding from the Despicable Me minions. Which, admittedly, WOULD be a pretty interesting encounter. Those little guys are almost invincible, if I recall.

Nooners:
I hope they choose different artwork. Right now it looks like the adventurers are hiding from the Despicable Me minions. Which, admittedly, WOULD be a pretty interesting encounter. Those little guys are almost invincible, if I recall.

Nah, that's just some goofy art from the DMG.

Modrons would be terrifying to fight, they'd never break.

Nooners:
I hope they choose different artwork. Right now it looks like the adventurers are hiding from the Despicable Me minions. Which, admittedly, WOULD be a pretty interesting encounter. Those little guys are almost invincible, if I recall.

I actually thought it was an army of whatever Mike Wazowski is from Monsters Inc.

Every time I see them, I'm so happy that Modrons are finally back in D&D.

Demagogue:

I actually thought it was an army of whatever Mike Wazowski is from Monsters Inc.

Nooners:
I hope they choose different artwork. Right now it looks like the adventurers are hiding from the Despicable Me minions. Which, admittedly, WOULD be a pretty interesting encounter. Those little guys are almost invincible, if I recall.

The Mondron first appeared in Dungeons and Dragons in 1983, long before either of those two.

Man, Wizards of the Coast just keep dumbing down D&D, ehh?

Now it's to the point where you roll one D20 to control your entire adventuring party against the entire enemy encounter. Maneuvering individual pieces and separate die rolls for separate characters with separate weapons is for chumps!

*moves his 10 Troll strong unit forward and rolls Bluff check*

Does this mean they're going to release a 5th edition version of Heroes of Battle? If there's any 3.5 supplement that deserves to be updated, that's the one, I say.

Llarys:
Now it's to the point where you roll one D20 to control your entire adventuring party against the entire enemy encounter. Maneuvering individual pieces and separate die rolls for separate characters with separate weapons is for chumps!

*moves his 10 Troll strong unit forward and rolls Bluff check*

Sounds like a d20 version of Thud. I'd totally play that.

*imagines this in combination with the work I've done with Ver. 3.5 Pokémon...and pictures horde encounters under these rules*

*stops thinking about it after half the civilized world gives me the eye and starts brandishing uncomfortable amounts of heavy ordnance when I look at Zubat*

I don't get why this game is still getting attention here. It had like, no splash at all in terms of the interest it generated on release... or after. WotC's fanbase around D&D has just about entirely evaporated (anecdotal observation).

ChronoNexus:
I don't get why this game is still getting attention here. It had like, no splash at all in terms of the interest it generated on release... or after. WotC's fanbase around D&D has just about entirely evaporated (anecdotal observation).

Counter-anecdote: I know a great many people who are interested in the game and have formed new groups to play it, and forums from /tg/ to RPG.net have lots of discussion about it. I'm not particularly fond of 5e, but saying that the D&D fanbase has evaporated is ludicrous.

OT: Looking at the rules, it seems like they are not particularly well thought out or organized. I can't see the point of configurations, where doing things like forgoing your own attack for a mere +2 AC seems poorly balanced. They could take some lessons from 2e WFRP and WFB or ACKS on simplifying stats for battles, rather than leaving them in their full complexity.

Between this and the Eberron stuff, I'm not really impressed with the redesigned UA, as it seems to be using the excuse of "playtest versions" to throw out rushed jobs to try and live up to the promises WotC made in development. I thought mass combat was going to be in the DMG, but since it isn't they should take the time to do it right and playtest it privately rather than showing us such rough work.

Eh. 3.5 had mass combat rules too, they were lame and unused then and they're gonna be lame and unused now.

D&D isn't a wargame, it doesn't work as a wargame and no one is playing it for a wargame. Trying to make it into a wargame is beyond pointless when there's plenty of good dedicated wargames out there.

WarpedMind:
Eh. 3.5 had mass combat rules too, they were lame and unused then and they're gonna be lame and unused now.

D&D isn't a wargame, it doesn't work as a wargame and no one is playing it for a wargame. Trying to make it into a wargame is beyond pointless when there's plenty of good dedicated wargames out there.

I could see these rules being useful in terms of a one time occurrence where the players are stuck between two clashing armies. Aside from that, I don't see this prompting a shift to wargaming; anyone who's into wargaming and D&D probably will continue to play the two separately.

Thunderous Cacophony:

Counter-anecdote: I know a great many people who are interested in the game and have formed new groups to play it, and forums from /tg/ to RPG.net have lots of discussion about it. I'm not particularly fond of 5e, but saying that the D&D fanbase has evaporated is ludicrous.

Don't get me wrong, I love D&D as its own kind of kitsch genre, and I see alot of retro support in the form of older editions games and PF, but as far as "D&D the brand" pushing sales of the new shiny edition... I just haven't seen the same kind of support or rapport for this edition. It doesn't even seem to have the draw of controversial ideas that 4e had.
WotC's own forums are a graveyard compared to the activity they used to have. I'm just not seeing the same kind of interest compared to previous editions, or even other TTRPGs.

Which brings me back to reiterating my first response. Why is this receiving so much attention on the escapist? There are plenty of other TTRPGs that could benefit from this sort of endorsement.

 

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