Mass Combat pt.3


Tactics are options an army can use to inf luence aspects of a battle. A newly recruited army doesn’t know any of these tactics unless specif ied by the GM. An army learns new tactics by being victorious in battle (see Victory, Rout, or Defeat on page 239). An army can know a number of tactics equal to half its ACR, minimum 0.

When a battle begins, the commander selects one tactic to use for that battle (if the army doesn’t know any tactics, the army uses the standard tactic). At the start of each Ranged or Melee phase, the commander may try to change tactics by attempting a DC 15 Morale check. Success means the army uses the new tactic for that phase (and the modifiers from the old tactic cease); failure means the army continues to use its current tactic. The effects of tactics end when the battle does.

Running Mass Combats

Since an army’s strength is represented by an ACR score, the GM can balance armies against each other using the guidelines for CR on page 398 of the Core Rulebook. For example, two ACR 9 armies should make for a relatively even battle, but so would an ACR 9 army against three ACR 6 armies. This applies mostly to typical humanoid armies, as monsters with powerful abilities might be significantly more formidable.

As with battlefield conditions, gaining benefits from a tactic is subject to GM discretion. (For example, you may not get the expert f lankers benefit if you cannot actually f lank your enemy).

Tactics marked with an asterisk (*) are default tactics all armies know; these do not count toward the number of tactics an army knows.

Cautious Combat: Your army fights cautiously in order to maintain morale. Decrease its OM by 2, and add 2 to all its Morale checks.

Cavalry Experts: Your army’s OM increases by 2 against armies that aren’t mounted. The army must have the mount resource to use this tactic.

Defensive Wall: Your army fights defensively, taking actions to protect fellow units as needed. Decrease its OM by 2, and increase its DV by 2.

Dirty Fighters: Your army uses trickery and unfair tactics to gain an advantage at the start of a battle. For one Melee phase this battle, its OM increases by 6. (After that Melee phase, the opposing army knows to be ready for such tricks.)

Expert Flankers: Your army is skilled at surrounding the foe and distracting them, at the cost of spreading out too much and being more vulnerable. Increase its OM by 2, and decrease its DV by 2.

False Retreat: Once per battle, your army can make a false retreat, luring a target enemy army deeper into your territory. On the phase your army makes a false retreat, it doesn’t attempt an Offense check. On the phase after it uses this tactic, increase its OM and DV by 6 against the target army.

Full Defense: Your army focuses on total defense of the battlefield. Increase its DV by 4, and decrease its OM by 4.

Relentless Brutality: Your army throws caution to the wind and attacks with savage and gory vigor. Increase its OM by 4, and decrease its DV by 4.

Siegebreaker: Your army targets another army’s siege engines in an attempt to destroy them. If your army damages the target army, your army attempts a second Offense check; if successful, destroy one of the target’s siege engines. This tactic has no effect on enemy armies without siege engines.

Sniper Support: Your army holds some ranged units in reserve to attack a target enemy army during the Melee phase. If your army damages the target army in the Melee phase, it deals 2 additional points of damage from these ranged attacks. The army must have ranged attacks to use this tactic.

Spellbreaker: Your army has specialists who can disrupt enemy spellcasting. Increase its DV by 4 against armies with the spellcasting ability.

Standard*: Your army’s attacks have no additional modifiers to its OM, DV, or damage.

Taunt: Your army is skilled at taunting its opponents, provoking stupid mistakes and overconfidence in battle. The target army must attempt a Morale check (DC = 10 + your army’s ACR) at the start of each Melee or Ranged phase; failure means it reduces its OM and DV against your army by 2 for that phase. If the target army succeeds at two of these Morale checks, it’s immune to this tactic for the remainder of the battle.

Withdraw*: Your army tries to escape from all armies attacking it. The army attempts an opposed Morale check against each army attacking it to maintain discipline (any army may voluntarily fail this check), but doesn’t need to attempt the usual Morale check to change tactics when switching to withdraw. If all of these checks are successful, your army may withdraw from the battlefield or treat the phase as a Ranged phase. If only some are successful, you may withdraw or treat the phase as a Ranged phase, but enemy armies in the battle may attack you as if you were in Melee. Whether or not the checks are successful, reduce your army’s OM and DV by 2 for the rest of this phase.


On the first Melee phase, the commander selects a strategy from one of five options on the strategy track. Strategies adjust the army’s DV, OM, and damage modifier.

Once each Melee phase after the first, the commander can alter the army’s strategy. Adjusting the strategy 1 step up or down does is automatically successful and doesn’t require a check. If the commander wants to adjust strategy more than 1 step, the army attempts a DC 20 Morale check. Success means the strategy changes to the desired level. Otherwise, the army’s current strategy doesn’t change.


Defensive +4 –4 –6

Cautious +2 –2 –3

Standard +0 +0 +0

Aggressive –2 +2 +3

Reckless –4 +4 +6


A rout is a chaotic and disorderly retreat of a defeated army from a battlef ield, usually from fear or when overwhelmed by a superior opponent. If an army’s hit points are reduced to equal or less than its ACR, its commander must attempt a DC 15 Morale check. If the check fails, the army scatters and retreats from battle. If it cannot retreat, it surrenders and is captured. When an army routs, all armies in the battle can attempt one f inal Offense check at the f leeing army as a parting shot before it escapes. (Normally, only enemy armies do so, but an aggressive or evil army might strike at a f leeing allied army out of anger or frustration.)


An army is victorious if all of its enemy armies f lee the battlef ield or are defeated. The aftermath of the battle can be different for each army, and depends on whether it was defeated, routed, or victorious.

Defeated: If an army’s hit points are reduced to 0, it is defeated. A defeated army may have a few survivors, but they are so demoralized and wounded (and probably captured by the enemy) that the army no longer exists as a cohesive unit and can’t be used again in mass combat. If your army is defeated, reduce your kingdom’s Economy, Loyalty, and Stability according to the size of the army.


Fine 0 0 0

Diminutive 0 –1 0

Tiny –1 –1 0

Small –1 –1 –1

Medium –2 –2 –2

Large –3 –2 –2

Huge –4 –2 –2

Gargantuan –4 –2 –3

Colossal –4 –3 –3

Routed: If the army routs, reduce its Morale by 1. If the army’s current hp are lower than the army’s ACR, increase its hit points to its ACR. A routed army refuses to fight until you succeed at a Loyalty check during your kingdom’s Upkeep phase (you may attempt this check once per turn). Note that a routed army can still be attacked by enemy armies, and can attempt Offense checks in battles—it just can’t initiate a battle.

Victorious: If your army is the last one left on the battlefield (not counting other friendly armies), it is victorious. Each time an army wins a battle, you can attempt a Loyalty check against your kingdom’s Control DC. If you succeed at this check, your army learns a new tactic and its Morale increases by 1 (maximum of Morale +4). If the army’s current hit points are lower than the army’s ACR, increase its hit points to its ACR. You may attempt a second Loyalty check; if you succeed, the army’s commander learns a new boon.


Each day that an army spends at rest (no movement and no battle), it heals a number of hit points equal to its ACR. Once per day, you may attempt a Loyalty Check against your kingdom’s Control DC. If you succeed, your army heals a number of additional hit points equal to its ACR. An inactive army heals back to its full hit points after a single month, no matter how many hit points it lost.

The mass combat rules assume that this healing is a combination of actual wound healing and gaining new units to replace those who were killed (meaning you don’t have to track individual losses and resize armies). These units can be recruited from sympathetic locals, replacements from your own settlements, or forced conscripts from conquered lands. If circumstances make these replacement options unavailable or unlikely, the GM is free to limit how much an army can heal, generally to half the army’s normal hit points. For other possibilities when dealing with wounded armies, see the optional Reforming an Army rule on page 246.

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