Take the skirmish underground - mass combat in the dungeon

From the "I'm sure SOMEONE has done this..." Department in my head comes this question.

Take a force of men, say 60 to 80 men at Skirmish scale (10:1) versus the inhabitants of a dungeon. That's the situation I'm facing as the PCs in my campaign sold copies of their maps of the Ruined Monastery to Sir Reynald, the adventuring nobleman NPC. In his mind, it's a simple matter of rounding up a few squads of footmen mercenaries, marching into the dungeon and exterminating the Red Goblin scourge. He has the money to spend and the zeal to do something full of glory and honor to "save" Enonia. After all, his father is the Duke of the Duchy of Irecia.

The question becomes for me, as a DM, how would I adjudicate that in a dungeon setting, taking terrain and factors of being inside, monsters and wandering monsters into account?

In a quick survey of a game like Book of War, I could imagine using them. There would some limitations and situations with being underground. Of course, I have Tucker's Kobolds as a guiding principle for how the monsters could react, but as this scenario is about a group of NPC adventurers vs. monsters in my campaign world, I have to play it a bit differently.

This seems like a very interesting exercise. I could conduct this at 1:1 scale, but I wonder about tracking 60 - 80 adventurers and opposing monsters. I just wish I had some examples to tinker with, I have to think that *someone* has done this and written about it somewhere.


  1. There are a few ways this has been handled. One is the old "one-hit removes one hit die" version of scaling up. Removes half the die rolls and a good chunk of the record keeping.

    Another is to get way too close to Lanchester's Law. Figure X men at arms can engage Y goblins at any given point, resulting in a loss rate of about 3 goblins per billman or however it works out. The goblins might also just bug out when they detect a force that large marching their way and then come back once they leave.

    Not sure wandering monsters would apply - they're usually patrolling or hunting. A patrol would report back and a predator would probably avoid an armed group that large if they matter or just eat the local village if they don't.

    Traps might be circumvented with livestock (or convicts, or uparmored hand carts) being driven down the halls, and locked doors are what battering rams are for. Several dozen people working together can cicumvent a lot of hazards through some basic construction and demolition techniques.

    Of course, if you abandon the simulationist angle, there might be some campaign fodder in dealing with the aftermath of Sir Reginald's Last Stand.

  2. That's roughly how Book of War works, in terms of HD scaling.

    I'm also assuming that the goblins might cause the humans to bug out, given my campaign circumstances. The twisted Red Goblyns of Chaos tend to freak out the normal men.

    I'm looking at some of the wandering monsters being fodder and dropping into 1:1 combat when needed for the less smart, but less than 10 individuals.

    Sir Reynald just might lose his life in this venture, so interesting campaign events are in motion!


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