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I decided to incorporate more Mass Battles and Sieges into a fantasy-themed game I’m running that utilizes the Black Powder Brigade characters I created. This turned into a research project on the various Mass Combat/Siege rules in several of the Savage Worlds products. Namely: Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorers Edition, Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion, Weird Wars Rome, Weird Wars II, Iron Dynasty, and Realms of Cthulhu.

Basically, both Mass Battles and Sieges utilize a quicker system that revolves around opposed Knowledge (Battle) rolls made by the opposing commanders. The breakdown of the steps into the most basic outline is:

  1. Characters perform Trait tests to determine the deductions/bonuses they contribute to the Knowledge (Battle) roll.
  2. The two opposing commanders make their Knowledge (Battle) rolls.
  3. The losing side deducts the symbolic representation (tokens) of their losses.
  4. The losing commander makes a Morale (Spirit) roll.
  5. Repeat until one side wins.

 

One thing I noticed when reviewing the Leadership Edges that affect Mass Combat and Sieges is that these Edges rarely are taken by players. In order to incorporate these Edges into a Mass Battle/Siege, I created a list of 6 effects (Edges). Instead of having these as Edges, however, I made them into a table that requires a 1d6 to use one of them. The trapping for this can be any manner of item, artifact, person, etc. that embodies the boon to the army. For example, in my game I’m running a siege where Orcs and Goblins are attacking a Dwarven fortress. The Dwarves have an item called “The Horn of Galfallen” that allows the heroes to roll once on the Boon table at the beginning of the siege.

I’ve also added tables for all the common modifiers that a GM would need to run Mass Battles and Sieges.

Mass Battle & Siege Cheat Sheet

Finally, I would recommend printing or having handy pages 16 and 18 of the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion. Page 16 lists different ways characters can affect either the Knowledge (Battle) roll, the Morale roll, or Supplies. Page 18 lists Siege Engines and Fortifications.

Using the Dwarven defense of their stronghold as an example, here are the factors that modify the Knowledge (Battle) roll for each side.

700 Dwarves have a huge Fortification (+3) with light artillery bonus (+1). The characters must each make their Trait rolls with the results further modifying the +4 bonus. The Dwarves will use 7 tokens with another 6 tokens representing their Supply total of 6.

1,000 Orcs and Goblins are attacking the fortress using light artillery (+1), Giants (+1), catapults (+3), and siege towers (+2). The Orc/Goblin army also receives a +3 because they have 3 more tokens (10) than the Dwarves. This gives the enemy a +10 to their Knowledge (Battle) roll.

And this becomes a great opening scene for the next Savage Worlds session!

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