Rules for Mass Combat in D&D
Welcome to Unearthed Arcana, a monthly workshop where D&D R&D shows off a variety of new and interesting pieces of RPG design for use at your gaming table.
You can think of the material presented in this series as similar to the first wave of the fifth edition playtest. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not fully tempered by playtests and design iterations. They are highly volatile and might be unstable; if you use them, be ready to rule on any issues that come up. They’re written in pencil, not ink.
The material presented in Unearthed Arcana will range from mechanics that we expect one day to publish in a supplement to house rules from our home campaigns that we want to share, from core system options to material designed for specific campaign settings. Once it’s out there, you can expect us to check in with you to see how it’s working out and what we can do to improve it.
Mass Combat Rules for D&D. The D&D combat rules in the Player’s Handbook are designed to model conflict between small groups—an adventuring party of perhaps three to six characters against monster groups that rarely exceed a dozen creatures. Combat on this scale keeps the focus squarely on the adventurers.
In some D&D campaigns, though, the story might hinge on battles involving dozens or hundreds of monsters and warriors. In this second installment of Unearthed Arcana, we build on the standard combat rules to model conflict on a much larger scale, allowing players and DMs to control whole armies. At the same time, these rules for mass combat allow individual adventurers to lead an army’s charge against an enemy regiment, rally dispirited soldiers to rejoin the fray, or defeat powerful enemy monsters or leaders.