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So I'm a player in a Star Wars Saga Edition game, and am starting to feel like a d20-based systems is not a great one for the game we're playing. We're playing in the clone wars era, so our battles typically involve 10-50 combatants, which my GM likes to place on a battle map. I get the sense that he really enjoys this aspect of the game (it's starting to grow on me as well), but the NPC turns can take a really long time because we have to track attack bonus, defenses, and hit points for large numbers of combatants.

Could you recommend a system that would allows us to keep the tactical feel without dragging out a single battle for hours? I haven't talked to the GM or the rest of the group yet, but we've run up against closing time twice in four sessions; each time with a battle started at least ninety minutes earlier. I feel that if I can suggest a good alternative when I broach the issue, I will have an easier time of convincing the group of the benefits of a change.

Thanks!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do not answer in comments. @MEP that would make a good proper answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Feb 13 '15 at 4:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Was totally going to recommend D&D 4e until I read “without dragging out a single battle for hours” \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 13 '15 at 4:36
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Two Options for the Saga Edition that I have used:

  1. Using the mass combat rules found in The Clone Wars Campaign Guide, p.96-97. They can give you a huge boost in compressing the time it takes. Large collections of the same enemies are given a single stat and attack, creating larger "characters" that can have their turn. This takes out the micromanaging aspect, but allows (I feel) a general sense of tactical battle without going into wargaming - with no disrespect intended to the noble roots of our genre.

  2. I've always loved the Victory Points concept from DnD's 3.5 book, Heroes of Battle. In it, your group must take certain areas, destroy key units, or generally do a small task on a big battlefield. You gain Victory Points for these tasks, and you can "win" the conflict by gaining a required amount. This allows your group to be pivotal while not engaging in every single tiny squabble that eats up good role-playing time. Combine this with the squad rules from The Clone Wars Campaign Guide (pp.94-96) and you can have a faster-paced, character-centered mass engagement.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Most of the answers on this question were pretty good, but this one has the benefit of being easy to integrate with our existing game. Thanks for the tip to the Clone Wars Campaign Guide. \$\endgroup\$ – Subject4056 Feb 13 '15 at 20:39
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Traditionally, large-scale battles in RPG scenarios were broken out into their own special event that used separate rules designed specifically for running large-scale battles. These rules were typically miniature wargaming rules, either an independent ruleset chosen by the players/GM according to their tastes, or one designed to be used alongside the particular RPG.

It sounds like you and your GM just really like to do some wargaming alongside your RPGing. There are many options, too many to properly detail within the scope of our RPG-specific site. Wargaming is a great hobby though, and there are enough pleasing options that you'll find a ruleset that you both enjoy fairly quickly. A Google search for star wars wargaming turns up plenty of hits, including one forum thread where people are sharing from experience wargaming systems that have worked for them for ground-based Star Wars battles. Dive in and explore what this parallel hobby has to offer — you really can't go far wrong, especially if you already have lots of miniatures you can use and don't need to shell out for pewter/plastic first, as it sounds like you do.

For my money, I prefer using a familiar universal wargaming ruleset that I can adapt to the needs of the RPG-based scenario (if necessary at all) rather than being yoked to a particular designer's vision of my RPG setting. I especially prefer going with a universal-ish wargame since that gives me more options to choose from for quality of wargame design — licensed IP wargames can be hit or miss in quality, since they've got a monopoly on the brand (at least while the license lasts) and don't need to put as much effort into rules quality or balance to sell it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Wargames also tend have better mass combat rules than RPGs (even those suppprting mass combat) do from a tactical standpoint, as it's what they're made for. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Feb 13 '15 at 6:31
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If you are interested in using the same system for both roleplaying and larger tactical battles then I believe Savage Worlds would be worth looking at.

It is designed specifically to be able to handle large numbers of combatants, and has settings based around World War 2 and the Vietnam War that make particular use of this fact. Rules are streamlined and there is little book-keeping for the majority of combatants. I have run combats with 50+ figures on the table, and this has taken around an hour maximum depending on the variety of foes and their skills/abilities.

There are also abstracted mass battle rules that can handle larger numbers of foes. Feedback on these is mixed though, and people either seem to love or hate them. I quite like them, but my current group of players really doesn't so they don't tend to get used.

In addition there are a couple of rules supplements you can buy that offer a halfway house between the two above options, and others that make the mass battle rules more flavourful and detailed.

With regards to the specific campaign you are running, there are already rules for weapons similar to light sabers, blasters, vehicle etc in the core rulebook. However, if you do choose to use the system I would recommend considering the Science Fiction Companion, which has far more detailed additional rules and equipment for the genre you are interested in.

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L5R has a good system for mass battles than works on a narrative level. It work by good roles providing legendary moments for characters to engage with.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you address how, exactly, you've used it for the querent's purposes? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Feb 13 '15 at 5:15

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