Monday, November 14, 2011

Book of War: Advanced Rules

The Book of War Basic Rules present a simple, complete game on their own that can be played without any advance knowledge of D&D (although it is a product of extrapolating from those rules). The Advanced Rules basically provide a mechanism to take any D&D creature type and more-or-less instantly start running it in a mass combat situation -- for example: when you are surprised by a random encounter roll with 40-400 goblins or the like. Here you'll see the kernel of those conversion rules from page 10. (Text between the rules below is hereby indicated as Open Game Content.)

One of the guiding principles of this ruleset is to make converting any creature type from the FRPG as simple as possible. Many of the most notable types are presented further below, with appropriate costs. Here are the primary guidelines for such conversions:

Movement Values and Hit Dice are the same as presented in the FRPG rules (and recall that all large creatures gain +1 to hit per 3 HD, as per the Core Rules). Armor Hit values can be converted by looking at the table in the Core Rules section and correlating AC to equivalent leather, chain, or plate types (or alternately, see Optional Rules: Exact Armor). Ranges for missile attacks are also as per the FRPG.

Monsters with extra attacks gain an equivalent number of dice when attacking. Likewise, creatures that do 2 or more dice of damage (say, giants) score that number of hits with each successful attack, but this is limited by the target's HD. For example, a 2-dice attack against a 1-HD target scores just 1 hit; that is, a normal man can't be squashed more than once by a giant's melee attack.

So I think that's pretty simple, in that the game fundamentally just uses the same stats that you'll already be looking at in places like OD&D Vol-2 (with a switch from AC→AH for the easy-to-apply-in-mass ascending target on d6). Note that for simplicity, I just ignore any incremental hit point bonuses (e.g., ogres just appear as HD4, trolls as HD6). The damage-limitation above has come to be referenced as the "no rollover minutes" rule. Also: In the book, this section presents the rule for converting cavalry, which we discussed previously.

Special abilities may require some further thought or massaging in order to elegantly play out in our wargame scale. For example, orc/goblin types have "light weakness" which indicates a -1 to morale in sunny weather (the D&D -1 to hit is negligible at our divide-by-3 scale). Regeneration such as for trolls it accounted by removing 1 hit per figure engaged in combat (at the time of the trolls' morale phase; which is sort of in exchange for them being fearless by default). And of course, the infravision possessed by all non-men/halflings can be extremely important during a night or underground engagement.

I included details for a stock variety of fantasy soldier-types -- specifically, I wanted to at least cover all the types that appear as men-at-arms options in D&D (such as OD&D Vol-3, p. 23 and other places). Divided into alignment categories, and each with a few different equipment profiles, they include: Lawful -- Halflings, elves, and dwarves; and also elite (3rd level) men, halflings, elves, and dwarves; Chaotic -- goblins, orcs, gnolls, plus (elite) bugbears, ogres, trolls, and hill giants. That's actually all I could fit in the pages devoted to fantasy types, but the primary idea is to serve as examples for the conversions you can do for any type from D&D. We do assume that larger types will be fitted with correspondingly larger, square bases (generally following what you see in Battlesystem or Warhammer or whatever you've already got them on).

Of course, while the initial creature-conversion is pretty close to being trivially easy, the correct pricing of each type is a completely different story. Special abilities may require some subjective judgements; for example, I made sure that any orc/goblin types were at least 1-point cheaper than equivalent men (in light of their special morale-weakness); and likewise elves/dwarves were required to be at least 1-point more expensive than men (respective of their special abilities). If creatures appear naturally in your campaign (such as by random encounter roll), then accurate pricing is likely a non-issue; but if you want to accurately balance combats for a standalone game, then I would again direct you to the Book of War Java pricing simulator program (or wait for me to expand to certain other types here on the blog).

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