As they travel around the archipelago, the party is getting closer to an inevitable showdown with the Big Bad, Zelzennak Soth, who probably has the spellbook that they came to Dinosaur Island to find in the first place. But Soth is not sitting still. He has plans of his own, most of which are just crazy ideas in my head in this point. One of those ideas that made its way out into the campaign was a war of extermination against the Neanderthals on the islands. Partly because that seemed like a reasonable course of action for a megalomaniacal whackjob – a quick decapitating strike at his two weakest neighbors would expand his territory and set him up to steamroll the other sorcerors like dominoes. And partly because I thought a mass battle between dinosaur-riding mages and archers against mammoth-riding Neanderthal spearmen sounded like a kick-ass way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And it was. Now I’m blogging it in pieces, both for my own future self and for anyone else who finds this stuff useful or diverting.
I’m using the mass battle rules from Zak Smith’s A Red and Pleasant Land. I didn’t want to reproduce them out of the book because the book is, seriously, probably the most inspired and inspiring roleplaying product I’ve ever seen in my frikkin’ life, and I’d much much MUCH rather that you bought your own copy while they’re still around to be bought. It’s even kid-safe. Fortunately Zak posted the embryonic version of the rules on his blog, here.
Having run two battles with this system today, or rather two halves of one battle separated by some maneuvering, I can tell you that it works like a charm. Especially if you’ve gone ahead and put the stats for the opponents right into the table, which I had. That might seem like an awful lot of work but the creature stats are straight out of my Dinosaur Island monster table and the rider stats are all things I’d already compiled from the NPC list at the end of the 5e Monster Manual. So although the table looks like a lot of work it was really just copying and pasting, and a little moving stuff around to get the encounters in ascending order of XP, which is a close-enough proxy for difficulty.
Here’s the table. PDF here: Dinosaur Island battle encounter table 1 – Soth’s expeditionary force
How did the battle actually go? And how did Zelzennak Soth get a big-ass army over to Minatou, anyway? Stay tuned.