Friday, July 5, 2019

Discussion: How Deep Do You Like Your Mass Battles?

When it comes to the big battles, the huge "Battle of Helms Deep" or "Battle of Winterfell" type moments, how close in do you like to get to the action with your players?

Do you go right into the fray, treating it almost like any other encounter with the PCs fighting alongside their allies against an army of bad guys?

Or do you pull way back and do some rolls and some choices for the army while narrating how the fight goes?

Do you sit in the middle, talking about the big battle but then zooming in for what is going on with the players?

That third option is what L5R did for a long time and it worked well. The generals for the two armies would make a contested roll for the overall fight, and then the players would choose their level of engagement (from being at the front lines to being all the way in the back) before rolling on a table to see what happened to them.

Heavily engaged was the most dangerous, but also got you the most glory. Sitting at the back was the safest, but could also result in you mostly sitting out the fight. The table also had chances for heroic opportunities and automatic damage based on how deep into the fight you were.

While slow that mix is the one I always loved. It let people see the gritty details and even have a chance to have their big hero moment, but it also resolved the larger battle separate from what happened to the PCs. And that worked well.

But how do you do your large battles? Do you even have them?

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