(Mass Combat Rewrite)
As an alternative to the clunky and, frankly, less than inspiring rules for Mass Combat presented in the Core Exalted book, I present this rewrite. Like my Mandate of Heaven rewrite, this one aims to make battles both faster and more enjoyable, while not necessitating a complete overhaul of the War Charms, as well as making Mass Combat more cinematic. As such, this system is rather more complex than my Mandate of Heaven rules. To begin with, there are three terms that need to be defined:
The General is the character commanding the army, usually (but not always) the one with the highest Int or Cha + War. The general gains access to a Battle Pool, which she useses to direct the army.
The Battle Pool
The Battle pool is an abstraction of the General's overall skill at command, as well as taking into consideration the quality, skill and discipline of the troops she commands, how well armed they are, and any supernatural aid they might have.
Instead of simulating Units, this re-write/hack considers Mass Combat to occur between armies as a whole, whether the army consists of a small, elite squad of Dragon Blooded Warriors in Warstriders, an unruly horde of twisted and dissolute Wyld Barbarians, or a disorganized mass of peasant levies. It is assumed that the general has disposed the troops to the best of their ability, and that they and/or other characters lead squads, command units, etc, without going through the trouble of detailing the movement of individual units.
Almost all attributes from the Mass Combat system remain, and are calculated exactly as in the Core rules, but are given new uses and divided into three distinct groups: Health, Combat, and Special. The Health stats are Magnitude, Endurance, and Morale. The Combat stats are Ranged and Close Comabt Attack, Ranged and Close Combat Damage and Armor. The Special stats are Drill, Might, and Formation.
Special Characters are dispensed with entirely.
Every Army has three types of Health: Magnitude Health measures how many men remain, and consists of 10 free -0 levels, plus a number of levels equal to Magnitude x 10. These levels are distributed as evenly as possibly between the -1 to -5 wound modifiers, starting at -1. Thus, a Magnitude 9 army would have 10 free -0 levels, and 18 levels each in the -1 to -5 modifiers, while a Magnitude 3 army would have 6. The difference in Magnitude between two opposing forces is also levied as a penalty to the Battle Pool of the General of the smaller force (see below).
Morale Health measures the cohesion and fighting spirit of the army. Every army has 10 free -0 levels, plus a number of levels equal to Morale x 5. These levels are distributed the same way as Magnitude health. Following the example above, a Morale 5 army would have 10 free -0 levels, and 5 health-levels in each bracket from -1 to - 5, while a Morale 2 army would have 2 in each -1 to -5 bracket. Morale Damage is usually inflicted by using Sorcery or through Events (see below). Note that some armies, such as undead, automata, or troops under the effect of certain Charms, have Perfect Morale. Any event that inflicts Morale Damage instead inflict Magnitude damage on such troops, reflecting the fact that they will fight to the bitter end rather than yield.
Endurance Health is equal to Endurance x 2, plus four free -0 Health levels. An Army automatically loses one point of Endurance health per Battle turn, representing the strain that constant fighting has on the soldiers. Endurance also measures how far and fast an army may move in one turn, if it is necessary to know such things (such as two armies beginning the battle out of close-combat range, for instance). Additional Endurance Damage may be inflicted by using Sorcery or through Events (see below).
The Combat stats determine how well the army comports itself in a fight, and remain virtually unchanged from the Core Mass combat rules. The way these stats are implemented, however, has changed. Close/Ranged Attack and Damage, are now considered base pools that are increased by the General's use of the Battle Pool. Armour now works both as a defense value, and as standard soak.
The Special stats work as follows: Might remains unchanged from the core rules. However, every pair of Exalted player character present in an army gives an automatic rating of +1 Might (rounding down). Thus, an army with 3 Exalted player characters has a Might of +1, while an army with 6 Exalted player characters has a Might of +3. Might is added directly to the General's Battle pool (see Below).
Drill, as in the Core Rules, reflects the level of training members of the army has recieved, and how capable they are. The difference between Drill ratings is applied as a bonus to the Battle pool of the General with the higher rating. An army consisting of highly trained, veteran troops with Drill 4 facing an unruly army of former peasant levies with Drill 1, would thus give their General a bonus of three dice.
Formation, once again, is more-or-less unaltered from the core rules, representing the main disposition of the army. However, the bonuses and penalties each formation gives, has been altered:
Close formation doubles the army's Close Combat Attack Rating, and adds +3 to armour to represent effective use of shields and cover. However, the opposing army doubles their Ranged Attack Rating. Requires Drill 2.
Relaxed Formation adds +3 to Armor against Ranged Attacks. Requires Drill 1.
Skirmish Formation adds +3 to Armor against Ranged Attacks, and against Ranged Damage. However, their Close-Combat Attack Rating is halved. Requires Drill 1
Unordered Formation reduces the General's Battle Pool by 3 dice.
It should be noted that Formation is an option, not a necessity. Using Formation adds another layer of complexity to the resolution of combat, and may be dispensed with.
Calculating the Battle Pool:
The basis of the Battle Pool is the General's (Charisma or Intelligence) + War + any applicable Specialities. Next, one adds Might, followed by the difference between the opposing forces' Drill ratings, which is added to the Pool of the General with the highest Drill. Furthermore, this pool /is affected normally by Charms such as Excellencies/, and War and/or relevant Attribute Excellencies explicitly apply.
Example: Sublime Computational Strategist, an Orichalcum Caste General, is leading an army consisting of regular troops against a frenzied horde of Gremlins, deep in the Autocthonian Reaches. Her base Battle Pool is 12 (Charisma 5 + War 5 + Strategy 2), her troops are well supplied with weapons from the factory cathedrals of her Patropolis and she's being accompanied by two fellow Champions (Adding a total Might of 4, upping the pool to 16). She is outnumbered, however, by 3 points (knocking her pool down to 13 again), but the opposing army has no oranization or discipline whatever (Drill 0) which adds another 2 dice due to the difference in Drill. Sublime Computational Strategist's final Battle Pool is 15. However, she also has the Second Charisma Excellency installed, which affects the pool normally.
Fighting a Battle:
Battles take place in Battle turns, each of which is approximately 20 to 30 minutes long. In a Battle, Initiative is rolled normally, but the opposing Generals always act first. Other characters participating in the fighting are then ordered by initiative. The General then make opposed rolls, pitting the Battle Pools against each other. If only two successes separate the two armies (e.g. one General rolls 5, the other 3 OR 7), the armies are considered to be Even. If more than two successes separate the two armies (e.g. one General rolls 5, the other 2 or 8 ), the side with the most successes is considered to be winning. If using the optional Terrain rules, the General with the highest number of successes chooses whether to be the Attacker or Defender.
Next, each player, including the General, decides where their characters are located in the battle; Reserves, Disengaged, Engaged, or Heavily Engaged. A character in the Reserves is bidiing their time, guarding the wounded, etc., but also recovers 1 Health Level of damage, as they are attended to by healers. A Disengaged Character has withdrawn from the main part of the fighting, or is on their way to join it. Characters who are Engaged have come into combat with the enemy, and are fighting. Heavily Engaged characters are right in the thick of the fiercest fighting of the battle, the first in line against the enemy, and gains a +2 bonus to their action due to the target-rich environment. NOTE: As this is Exalted, there is no penalty levied for a General "leading from the front". However, if the Storyteller wants a more realistic game, she may levy a penalty of -1 to -3 dice to the Battle Pool depending on where in the battle the General is (-1 Disengaged, -2 Engaged, -3 Heavily Engaged).
Once each player has decided where their character is engaged, they add the lower of their Intelligence OR War to the total number of successes gained by the general, and compares the result to the following table:
|General's Successes + Intelligence or War|
Depending on where the Character is located, they suffer a number of dice of Raw Lethal damage as noted in the table, representing the strain and danger of close combat. Lethal Soak applies to all damage, however, reducing the damage to a minimum of 1. Therefore, a character whose side is Losing, is Heavily Engaged, and whose result on the table is 6 or 7, would suffer 20L of Raw Damage and subtract her soak. If her side was winning, however, she would suffer only 15L. In both cases, the character would gain access to an Event. If she so desires, a character may also use any applicable defense Charms at this point, in which case the damage is avoided entirely. If the Charm depends on beating a set threshold of successes, the ST may roll the opposing army's Magnitude + Close Combat or Ranged Atttack. This has no other effect than to calculate the successes the character needs to beat, and does not further modify the damage in any way.
Note!: Some characters, such as Martial Artists, are prevented from using armour while in combat. This can make battles unreasonably deadly to them, in effect penalizing a character for no good reason. Thus, characters wearing no armor OR light armor only, modify the calculation of Soak in battle by adding the highest of the Parry or Dodge Defense Value to their soak, before any other charms are applied to avoid the damage.
Events are special occasions on the battlefield, that has the potential to inflict additional damage to the opposing side's Morale or Magnitude, reduce Attack-Ratings or Might, add a bonus to the General's next Battle roll, and so on and so forth. The Event can be nearly anything, from boldly charging the enemy, holding the line against impossible odds, dueling a champion or officer from the opposing army, protecting medics, and so on, and counts as the character's action for this turn. The player does not have to accept the event, however.
In Battle, characters only have one action per turn, and may not flurry. This can be considered an abstraction or summation of all the actions taken during half an hour in combat. This action may be anything the character pleases, but is usually spent on an attack. Do note that this does not have to be a physical attack! It's entirely reasonable for a character to make a Social Attack to target the enemy's Morale. The attack is rolled as normal, applying any bonuses from Charms and penalties from wounds, plus any penalties the ST decides to levy, counting the opposing army's Armour + Magnitude rating as both defense and soak. The final, post-soak damage is then applied as damage to Magnitude Health. If the damage that greater than the opposing army's Magnitude, all levels above Magnitude are also counted as Morale Damage, and applied to the Morale Health track.
Example: Overzealous Beacon of Tomorrow is leading a squad in Sublime Computational Strategist's army, and, being eager to come to grips with the Gremlins, decides to be Heavily Engaged with the enemy. Strategist gets 6 successes on her Battle roll, seizing the initiative and beating her opponents by four successes, meaning that Beacon is on the winning side. Adding the lower of her Intelligence or War, that being War 1, to Strategist's 6 successes, Beacon's result is 7. With Beacon having a Lethal Soak of 16, the ST rolls 1 dice to calculate how much Lethal damage Beacon suffers, and gets 1 success. If the optional Parry and Dodge rules were used, she would also have added the higher of her Parry or Dodge defense value to her soak (see below). Noting this down, Beacon has also gained an Event!
Next, she takes her action for the turn, which is the Event. The ST decides that she has an opportunity to take out a group of ranged support Gremlins, potentially reducing the opposing army's Ranged Attack and Damage pools! Eagerly seizing her chance, Beacon rolls her attack and damage against the opposing army's Armor + Magnitude, and by judicious use of Charms ends up doing a whopping 12L damage to the Gremlin hordes! The ST notes 12 levels of Magnitude Damage to the opposing army, and describes how Beacon leads her squad in a glorious charge, obliterating the enemy. Additionally, since Beacon's damage ended up being 4 levels above the Gremlin's Magnitude, the opposing army also takes 4 levels of Morale Damage. Furthermore, as a result of the event, the opposing Army's Ranged Attack and Damage will be reduced by two dice.
Once all characters have performed their actions for the turn, both Armies act as a whole, and always acts last in the initiative order. After adding up the result of any Events, the General rolls for the army, in standard attack rolls (Close Combat and Ranged) plus a number of dice equal to successes from the Battle Roll, vs. Armor. Damage is calculated normally, once again subtracting Armor, and applied to Magnitude Health (and Morale Health as appropriate).
Example: Finally, Sublime Computational Strategist's army acts against the horde of Gremlins. Overzealous Beacon of Tomorrow has already inflicted 12 levels of Magnitude Damage, and Relentless Pursuit of Monstrosities, another fellow Champion, has inflicted a further 10 levels of Magnitude Damage. Furthermore, thanks to Beacon and Monster's actions, the opposing Gremlins have -2 to Ranged Attack and Damage, and Strategist's forces enjoy a +1 bonus to attack. The base attack value is 2, plus 1, plus 6 from successes on the Battle roll, plus 1 from Monster's Event, for a final pool of 10 dice. However, Strategist's troops are in Close Formation, and so, she may double her Close Combat pool to a whopping 20 dice.
Strategist rolls this against the Armor of the Gremlins, which is 2, twice (representing both those troops engaged in close combat and attacking from range), for a total of nine and three successes. The base damage of her troops is five, plus nine and three from the attack-roll, minus two for Armor, leaving her with 12 dice and six dice for damage, respectively. She rolls and scores seven and two successes, inflicting a further nine levels of Magnitude Damage on the opposing Army,
Next, the Storyteller rolls for the Gremlins. Their base attack is two, plus three for successes on the Battle roll. The Gremlins are in Unordered Formation, and gains no bonuses. Strategist's army also has an Armor value of 2, , but thanks to Beacon taking out the ranged support Gremlins, the dice-pools are five and three, respectively. Rolling twice, the ST scores three and one successes. However, Close Formation allows the Gremlins to double their Ranged Attack against Strategist's forces. Rolling an additional three dice, the Storyteller scores two more successes, making it three and three.
The damge the Gremlins inflicts, though, is quite high; 7 dice, plus three and one, for pools equal to Strategist's own. Rolling twice against Armor again, the Storyteller scores a total of seven levels of damage against Strategist's forces, as the Gremlins swarm the humans...
After calculating damage to the armies as a whole, the next turn begins. Characters may now move between the levels of engagement, being able to move 1 degree of engagement per dot of Int or War (player's choice). Thus, Overzealous Beacon of Tomorrow would be able to move two degrees of engagement (from Heavily Engaged to Disengaged), thanks to her Int of two.
Sorcery in Battle:
Morale, the fighting spirit of an Army, can be influenced in many ways, both positively and negatively. For the most part, an Army's Morale levels will be influenced by events, or social attacks, but special mention should be made of Sorcery.
Sorcery is an awesome display of supernatural power, and an unmistakable sign that the Exalted are involved in combat. As such, when Sorcery is used in a Battle, in addition to the normal effects of the spell (adjudicated by the Storyteller), it also inflicts automatic levels of Morale damage on the opposing force equal to 1 + the Circle of the spell. Thus, a Sorcerer using Death of Obsidian Butterflies inflicting 11 levels of damage on the opposing army would, in addition to any levels of Magnitude damage, inflict 2 levels of automatic Morale Damage (1 + 1 for a Terrestrial (First) Circle spell).
List of Suggested Events:
Assault the Archers - A break opens in the enemy's lines, allowing you to attack the opposing Army's archers (or other, equivalent troops), resulting in a -2 penalty to the affected Army's Ranged Attack.
Assault the Artillery - Through heavy fighting, you have managed to reach and damage the enemy's heavy support (Siege-engines, Implosion Bows, or equivalent troops), permanently reducing the enemy's Might by 1 for the rest of the battle, OR inflicting 2 Morale damage (player's choice).
Breach the Defenses - You may make an attempt to breach a heavily defended part of the enemy's lines. Roll an attack test against twice the enemy's Armor. If successful, you have broken through. Reduce the opposing Army's armor by 1 for this turn.
Counterattack - As the enemy charges, you rally your troops and counterattack. Take an additional 10d10L Raw Damage this turn, but gain +1 Armor for you Army, OR inflict 2 Morale damage (player's choice).
Duel - Suddenly, you come face to face with one of the leaders of the enemy army, giving you the opportunity to engage them in single combat before the fighting can reach you. Both sides roll an opposed attack-test, inflicting damage as normal. The winning duelist inflicts 2 levels of Morale damage to the opposing Army.
Evacuate the Wounded - You come across several wounded friendly soldiers, and help them make their way to the Reserves where they can be treated. Your Army heals 1 Morale damage, OR Magnitude Damage (player's choice).
Flank and Attack - Through good fortune or clever positioning, you have managed to attack the enemy's flank! Your Army gains +1 to attack this turn, and you inflict 1 Morale Damage.
Glorious Charge - You have spotted a flaw in the enemy lines. Gathering your troops, you seize the chance and charge. Count as Heavily Engaged for this turn. If you are already Heavily Engaged, take an additional 10dL Raw Damage. However, you inflict 2 Morale Damage to the enemy in addition to any Magnitude Damage.
Hold Ground - As the enemy presses in on all sides, you exhort your soldiers to stand their ground, not yielding an inch. Count as Heavily Engaged. If you are already Heavily Engaged, take an additional 10dL Raw Damage. The opposing army takes 2 Morale damage, however, thanks to your furious defense.
Protect the Archers - Seeing the enemy press your archers (or equivalent troops), you lead your soldiers to their aid. Your Army gains +1 Ranged attack this turn.
Protect the Artillery - Seeing the enemy close on your army's heavy support, you rush to engage and drive them off. Your General gains +1 to their next Battle Roll.
Rally the troops - You come across a squad of troops fleeing the frontline. Roll Charisma + Presence, against a difficulty equal to your level of engagement (Disengaged 1, Engaged 2, Heavily Engaged 3). If successful, you heal 1 level of Morale Damage, and your General gains +1 to their next Battle Roll.
Winning the Battle:
Battles are very rarely fought until one side is utterly annihilated. Instead, it is much more common for one side to either break from loss of Morale, or exhaust themselves through fighting and then yielding the field. One side or the other may also gain such a clear advantage that the other must retreat. As such, there are several conditions for victory:
Tactical victory - The General that can remain Winning for three consecutive turns, will force the enemy to quit the field.
Morale victory - The Army that can break the enemy's Morale (i.e. filling in all the boxes of Morale damage), has demoralized the opposition to the point where the enemy has no choice but to retreat.
Endurance victory - The Army that first loses all of its endurance, will be too tired to fight on. The only option is to fall back, or surrender.
Terrain in Battle (optional):
These rules assume that terrain isn't vitally important for the resolution of the battle, or that the Storyteller will impose relevant bonuses and penalties depending on the situation. However, for those who wish some firmer guidelines the following terrain modifiers might be applied. These rules also considers which Army is the attacking or defending army, as this has a direct impact.
Open Terrain - Relatively featureless terrain, such as open plains or low hills. This type of terrain gives a bonus of +1 to the General's Battle Pool, due to troop movements being easy to observe. In addition, the attacking army gets +1 to Ranged and Close Combat attack, while the Defending Army gets -1 to Armor, but +2 Close Combat attack.
Difficult Terrain - Heavily forested plains and broken hills, mountain foothills, or light-to-medium fortifications. This type of terrain grants the Defending Army +1 Armor and +1 to both Close Combat and Ranged attacks. The Attacking Army's General gains +1 to his Battle Pool and gains +1 to Ranged combat attack, but his troops suffer -1 Armor and -1 Close Combat Attack.
Extreme Terrain - Broken, jagged or highly unusual ground (glass, scree, volcanic rock), or heavy fortifications. This type of terrain grants the Defending Army +2 Armor and +2 to both attacks. However, the defending General's Battle Pool is reduced by 2 reflecting limited options. The Attacking Army gains +1 to Ranged attack, but suffers a -2 penalty to Close-Combat attack and -1 Armor.
Heroic Mortals in Battle (optional)
The battle system as currently envisioned is geared towards Exalts, taking into account their armour, Charms, and all-round greater resilience compared to mortals. This doesn't mean that a Heroic Mortal (or god/demon/ghost/fae/etc. -Blooded) character should feel left out. As a result, at the ST's discretion, one or both of the following optional rules may apply to Heroic Mortals in Mass Combat:
1) Safety in numbers - Halve all raw damages on the Battle table results (to a minimum of 10L), when applying the damage to mortal characters, as Mortal characters are more likely to rely on teamwork than on individual heroics.
2) Will to live - If enough raw damage gets through a heroic mortal's armour to slay him outright, he may opt to spend all his remaining temporary willpower. This will reduce the character to Incapacitated, and move him to the Reserves.
[Edit 2 - edit harder]: Added a clarification on Defense charms, and optional rules for Heroic Mortals/Godbloods/etc.
[Edit... Whatever number I'm on now]: Some fairly excessive revisions, due to playtesting.