Wednesday, March 14, 2012
We've all had this situation in our game. A large party of players, possibly with some NPC help, gets into a fight with a large group of monsters. Suddenly book keeping becomes an issue. Lots and lots of dice are being rolled. What looks like a fun fight at first bogs down and takes far too long. So how do you as a GM deal with battles that aren't full scale warfare, but are larger than your normal encounter?
Back in the early days of 2nd edition, we had BattleSystem Skirmishes. Most of us remember the various versions of the BattleSystem mass combat rules, but BattleSystem Skirmishes was the less popular and now forgotten system that bridged the gap between RPG and tabletop wargame. Skirmishes represents individual models on a 1:1 scale, as opposed to the 10:1 or some larger scale that is used in most wargames. In this way it has more in common with today's pre-painted miniatures games like D&D minis and the Clix games. As a wargame, it really wasn't all that interesting. In fact, I don't recall anyone ever using it as such. However, it did do one thing fairly well, and that was simplifying and speeding up combat for 2e AD&D.
Even though the book goes on and on about the rules of combat, and has good size list of monsters spells and magic items, we only really needed about 2 pages of the book. Those pages provided charts and rules for converting 2e characters to Skirmishes rules, which actually turns out to be a very simple process. Hit points and damage are now represented as hit dice or just "hits". A 1 hit die create from 2e had 1 hit in skirmishes. your standard weapon that would do a d8 damage in 2e did 1 hit. Skirmishes used Thaco and armor class, just like 2e with just a few other modifiers. Other than that, you could just use all of the other standard rpg style rules. I loved this system, because it got rid of the damage roll, and weaker creatures were either alive or dead. You no longer had to keep track of 20 kobolds that had taken wounds. Even creatures with more hits could be tracked with a die or another simple marker (really tiny d6s were great for this).
Even though this was written with 2e in mind, it would work with any old version of D&D once you see how the conversion works.