Does anyone have a mass combat system for icrpg? Got a big battle coming up and need a simple system. Thanks!


Well how is this battle going to be different. What scale are we talking about.


Without knowing any details about what you want, here are some suggestions.

Represent a group of creatures (soldiers) with a single token. That group consists of 10 creatures per heart, so a 2 heart ‘token’ has 20 creatures in it and so on. This way you can represent hundreds of soldiers with ease. Groups hit and damage each other by using regular rules. Each point of damage (effort) done against a group token kills one creature in it.

You can also rule that heroes are, well, heroes and they damage these groups without any penalty. A hero that does 5 damage to a group kills 5 creatures in it.

Damage from regular single units against group tokens can be divided by 10. Another rule can be that siege weapons do double and/or ultimate damage to group tokens.


Chunk the battle? Make each unit/objective/location a chunk, then have each side make a roll to work against them each turn. Cool things the characters do could influence that roll, determine which objectives could be hit, etc.Threat timer is for variables: reinforcements, weather, force loss due to desertions etc. Automate the opposition with a chart showing how they act at the beginning, how they act if they 're winning, losing, and so on. Just thoughts without knowing the scenario…


giving the heroes unhindered attacks really shows how they are above normal folk and lends nicely to an action movie feel as they cut, cast or blast their way through the ranks. I really like that idea and the image of a mage dropping lightning down and obliterating a whole token in one go is just beyond cool to me.



@Abodi has a good point about scale…I would not do a mass combat system for ICRPG. Unless you plan on using many minis like a wargame to simulate the battle. Then I would recommend OnePageRules… but again this depends on what scale you want the player to work in.

Typically, the characters cannot influence a battle of a large size. They can influence the battle at their scale of small group, or even individual, tactics… Below are some suggestions on SCALE and how to manage them at the table with ICRPG.

Giant Battles with thousands of troops

If the Players are the generals and/or commanders of armies and want to move around “blocks” of troop types, then I would recommend what @Khan stated about groups or blocks of creatures/enemies represented by a tokens or blocks of paper models. With HEARTS representing the strength of the troopers…etc. You could use CHUNKS to represent the capability of the troops and the various types of war machines, as well.

Skirmish level groups fighting amongst the armies

If they are commanding a small group (mounted rangers, knights, or a band of ragtag fugitives, for example) I would concentrate on describing the larger battle and using the small group escorting the players as a depleting HP pool from which to allow them some protection from other group attacks… CHUNKS is great for this. Use them to represent the ability for the enemy to whittle down your effectiveness as attackers come and go. Each chunk could represent bonuses to small arms, or ranged weapons, armor, or even shield HP. Give the players to opportunity to come up with this, but be prepared to offer suggestions as well.

Individual people or small groups

If they are individuals caught up in a huge battle (LotR:Battle of the Five Armies is a good example) then give the players opportunities and problems to resolve within the battle as it rages around them.

FOR EXAMPLE: A giant ogre appears from the ranks and smashes you with a tree trunk… OR… as the knight charges you with his horse while the other rank and file enemy troops close in with their spears, making any fighting with the knight HARD as best… OR… you are presented with a fallen soldier from your guard, but you can see a PC is being surrounded, which do you save? Can you save them both?..

TIMERS can be used to represent the impending Ogre, or the charging knight, or even the time the player has to rescue his friend or his comrade in arms…

There are a ton of variations to use. None of them are the “right way” to manage the battle. It is up to you as the GM to decide how to narrate the battle, and in what form you would want to have the battle be told.

Like a director choosing a wide panning shot from an airplane over the huge mass of armies fighting, or a steady-cam shot from over the shoulder of the hero of the movie, you are the director and you get to choose how the story is “shot”… The players determine the outcome.

I hope this overly explained answer helps… Game On! ~ Ezzerharden


I could have sworn I saw some sort of mental bending from @GmGrizzly on this?


You are correct… one of his books covers this same topic!


I guess it is more of a question of goals, what are you doing? Are your player characters playing leaders?

Or just a big battle?


I like the idea the folks here are going with, dealing with each unit as a monster with its own stats and the guys that make it up as its equivalent of loot–so it’s stats degrade until the survivors head for the hills. That’s neat.

But it makes me wonder if there isn’t a good way to apply the Index Card RPG element as well. Like print out art of the different elements of the army that your army can engage with, some art with an archer unit, or a siege weapon, or some cavalry, so maybe you can’t see the entire enemy and friendly armies, just the units you’re able to reach based on where you are. Defeating or outmaneuvering a unit can reveal other units and cause others to drop out of range. Eventually you will get to the champion unit and the general’s camp. I like the idea of doing it this way rather than having to plot it out on some kind of battle map–just have everything as art cards spread out on the table ICRPG style.


I think with Mass Combat, it’s probably better to treat the battle of helms deep as the setting, as in the PCs are battling at this location and the surrounding war going on is the boundaries of the scene they’re in. They can Roll+CHA to form the Shield Wall (and give its chunk an extra heart), or they can Roll+DEX to jump over the enemy shield wall and attack their commander. Attacking mooks is a special case of them rolling their Damage effort to kill that many mooks surrounding them (attacking the Chunk where eat hit point is a combatant?). But the scene has a tangible goal. If the players TPK or retreat, the battle is lost. If they defeat the enemy commander or force him to retreat, the battle is won.

Basically, I’m thinking of this scene from The Last Kingdom season 1: https://youtu.be/as7x0SybpFc?t=12


Your “giant battles with thousands of troops” explanation is an answer to a question I’ve had about how to approach running a “Three Amigos/Seven Samurai”-style city defense where players have X turns before the invasion. Specifically, I’ve been looking for a satisfactory means of mechanically describing the advantage secured by investing precious turns enlisting, equipping, and training groups of townsfolk: They can be represented by blocks and moved around different districts in an abstracted city map.

Thanks! This is great.