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Campaign running help

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Alright so I'm currently running a campaign in which the PCs are all in the military. I was hoping to get some help or ideas on how to run a few things they would definitely run  into. How would I run a full scale battle. It would be ridiculous to run through the turn of every NPC on either side. Also soon they will be made as an attachment to an emissary's guards. Basically I'm asking for advice on how to run things with a large number of NPCs.

I'm acctually working on this exact thing myself. I'm thinking about having the highest commander of the troop represent the troop as a whole for everything except attack/defense and hit points. And of course with some alteration to things like Stealth checks. I've divided the units into the following troops:

Light Infantry, Heavy Infantry, Artillery, Mounted Artillery, Light Cavalry, Heavy Cavalry, Mobile Siege Weapons, Stationary Siege Weapons, and bases (e.g. camps, towns, ruins, castles). But I want to simplify it somewhat, so I'm thinking having 3-4 kinds of attack and 3-4 kinds of defense. But I haven't worked out the kinks yet.

Of course, I'm doing things medieval style. You didn't mention in which era your campaign is set. If it is contemporary or futuristic, you don't need to worry much about large scale battles, since most battles today are fought with small elite units, much like a standard adventuring party. If there's any other units fighting closeby, you can just narrate the action.

Concearning the emissary, will they act as bodyguards or more like caravan guards?

Can the pcs shift the battle? If not, you can simply choose how you want it to go, that best advances the story. 
If they can, then let their fate determine that of the army.

Better to spend time/effort where the pcs are the stuff off camera.

Why not just treat the whole army as just one big unit? Roll for it as you would a PC or a monster or something. Give each side bonuses based on logical advantages, like being fortified, terrain, and things like that. And if the PCs are in the battle, you could, each round, do two rolls- one to determine the entire army's kills and losses, and another private one for the PCs. Add the PC kills to the army kills, and your all set.

The good thing about doing it like this is that its simple, and you are using the same rules you always do, and not inventing really complicated, self-contradictory messes of rules.

Quick question, cw: what system are you running?  Some are better than others for what you're trying to do.  I've heard really good things about Savage Worlds and GURPS, for instance.


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