Does anyone have resources, ideas, tips to share on how to manage mass combats in DW?

Does anyone have resources, ideas, tips to share on how to manage mass combats in DW?

Does anyone have resources, ideas, tips to share on how to manage mass combats in DW? The PCs have successfully raised an army of 200 villagers to fight a group of bandits on their way to destroy the village.

I’m looking forward to Inglorious, but I need to come up with some base rules and mechanisms for our session next week. Thanks!

16 thoughts on “Does anyone have resources, ideas, tips to share on how to manage mass combats in DW?”

  1. I feel a bit like a broken record here (how much longer will _that_analogy be around for?), but I feel like you could handle this purely with fiction and existing mechanics.

    They’re villagers, right? That implies they aren’t well trained, have shoddy equipment, and will probably break easily if things start go go poorly. You now have a plethora of NPCs you can affect with GM moves, and Defy Danger can be used to command this makeshift army.

  2. I modeled a 50 vs 50 combat simply as obstacles. There is always going to be a goal involved beyond “kill the other guy” so throw a bunch of goals at them unrelated to the direct conflict and make navigating the scrum some Danger to Defy. Take out the cannon, kill their musician keeping morale, break their physical defenses, etc. For each milestone achieved, they move closer to winning the overall conflict.

    Also, Iron Edda: World of Metal and Bone has some cool moves that might work well in some cases. Like:

    When you exhibit your prowess against a force of unworthy opponents, you eliminate any number of them, and the GM makes a move against you.

    When you hold your ground against an overwhelming force, roll+Con.

    On a 10+, choose one; on a 7-9, the GM chooses one.

    – The enemy is slowed, buying time

    – The enemy is weakened in a real way

    – You reveal an opening that can be exploited against the enemy

    – You save something that is at risk.

    After the roll, make a Last Breath roll.

  3. Discern Realities:

    Where are the bandits?

    How motivated are they?

    What are their weaknesses?

    What are our weaknesses?

    Defy Danger:

    INT – how good is your plan?.

    WIS – how good your guessing about unknowns?

    CHA – how good is your leadership?

    What danger? Getting ambushed, outflanked, surprised, villager morale failure, etc.

  4. I think it depends a lot what the players command them to do. “stay back and defend the village, we handle that” means you don’t have to care for them other than fiction. Maybe they stand a certain amount of time and that’s it. “a build an army to meet them on the battlefield” could include a lot of defy danger to make plans and motivate and drill them, with the PCs taking on the officers while mass combat is happening. “come with us in small hit Squads and make sure we can defeat them” would make then fictionally very strong hirelings with a lot of loyalty rolls.

    Never forget the base rule of dw: play to find out what happens.

  5. It depends on which scale you want to solve that. It can be just fictionnary or a toss of coin or a man to man resolution. A custom move or two could help in this matter.

  6. I would give the battle its own grim portents. Things that happen if you don’t stop them. If they fail one something happens in the fiction.

    Things like

    -planning and executing an ambush

    -Setting up heavy artillery ( magic or technology)


  7. Aaron Griffin, those Iron Edda moves are really cool. I especially love that you roll Last Breath after holding your ground. What a cool way to evoke the spirit of the move through the mechanics.

  8. Mathieu Baril a couple thoughts:

    1) If the village and the villagers are important to the PCs, like a home base or something, you might try using the Stonetop steading playbook & moves (here ). This turns the steading tags for size, prosperity, population, and defenses into stats and gives you some moves (Deploy, Muster, Pull Together) that rely on them. They’ll lack a little teeth, though, if you aren’t also interested in tracking the steading’s ongoing fortunes and resources.

    2) If you have Perilous Wilds, you could stat up the villagers (or individual units) as Followers. If you don’t have Perilous Wilds, you can find an older version of the follower moves here ( ) and a more-up-to-date version here, on the extra page of the Marshal playbook ( ).

    With the followers approach, you’d stat up the main groups with Quality, Loyalty, tags, instincts, and cost, plus a move or three. Then, when the crap hits the fan, you use the Command Followers move to see if they do what they’re supposed to and the Do Their Thing move to how well they do it.

    Even if you take one of these approaches, though, I think Side Wynder’s idea of making a Front for the battle (complete with Dangers, Impending Dooms, Grim Portents, stakes, etc.) is a great idea.

  9. If one of the PCs actually wants to be the general and lead the battle, you might look at the Hardholder moves in AW, or Captain moves in Class Warfare.  Something like:

    When you direct a unit of troops in the heat of battle, roll+CHA. On a success, you engage and deal damage to an enemy unit or drive toward your objective.  On a 10+, also choose one:

    – Your unit attacks savagely, taking punishment to dish out extra damage.

    – Your unit defends strongly, avoiding damage. 

    On a 7–9, your unit takes damage from the enemy’s attack.

  10. There are allot of good suggestions already, but in addition, you can view the army you’ve raised as a timer for those grim portents (if you decide to go the route of using fronts. Which I think is awesome by the way). The more villagers you have fighting, the longer the timer to complete missions.

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