Thursday, November 15, 2018

Chainmail Arena Update

Still puttering around with this idea, but I've been a bit busy with work (lots of student writing to grade this semester), Netflix (watched Daredevil Season 3 and watching Ken Burns' Vietnam documentary lately), being a dad...

Quick reminder for people who didn't read (or forgot) my previous post. I'm thinking of running an arena combat game using Chainmail's fantasy supplement. My son got me interested in the phone game Clash Royale again (I stopped playing it about a year ago, now I'm playing occasionally again), and that somewhat inspired this. Reading Jon Peterson's Playing At the World is also an inspiration.

The idea is to have players 'draft' teams of soldiers and creatures, I create several arenas (with appropriate fantasy themes - lava caverns, haunted forests, teleportation gates, floating castles, etc.) and let the players duke it out in turn-based combat. Winners will get prizes and XP, and when you level up you get a larger pool of points to draft your fantasy monster team.

The only hang-up I have is that to fit seamlessly with the 'fantastic combat' table, I should use the man-to-man rules, but they aren't by troop type but rather weapon vs armor. So for every type of human (valkyries, barbarians, knights, etc.), demi-human, or humanoid, I'd need to provide set values for armor/weapons. Or else rebuild the tables using the normal Chainmail combat values but converted to the closest result on a 2d6 roll.

I really don't want to have to play a split system where some units/creatures are rolling d6 die pool style, while others are rolling simple 2d6 rolls. I'd rather keep it at 2d6.

My recent foray into the Dungeon! board game for my West Marches game may also help me here, since that game (inspired by Arneson's use of Chainmail combat in his Blackmoor game) uses a 2d6 combat roll system.

So I'll probably have to come up with an expanded 'Fantasy Combat Results' table that includes the standard troop types. And all the humans, demi-humans and humanoids will mostly just be cosmetically different and operate as whatever troop type they are.


  1. As someone who's attempted (without much success) to experiment with the Chainmail combat rules, I'll definitely be interested to see the results.

  2. I didn't have a chance to comment on the previous post (been busy with my own Netflix viewing and dad duties...).

    Do you have any experience with the Wizards of the Coast version of Chainmail? It was similar in concept to other skirmish-level miniature games (like GW's Mordheim or Necromunda), but based off the D20 system. Per wikipedia, it only lasted for a year (2002) before being replaced by something called the "D&D Miniatures Game" (also cancelled at this time). If you can find old (PDF) copies of this game, you might consider mining it for ideas. One advantage 2002 Chainmail has over original Chainmail is it's use of battle maps (based on D20 movement), that might make it easier to set up the various arenas you're talking about.

    If you want something a bit more "freeform" I would strongly recommend checking out Mordheim and the fan-created supplement Lustria: Cities of Gold. In my opinion, they're just about the best skirmish-level mini games ever created. Being GW games, they are D6 based, and they are fairly hackable.

    Every few years I get the itch to write/develop some sort of fantasy gladiatorArena game. Haven't done so yet. There are a couple on the market (usually historic "gladiator" systems that include add-on "fantasy" supplements), but I haven't had any direct experience with these.

    Good luck! Like Fuzzy, I'll be interested in seeing the end result.
    : )

    1. Thanks for the suggestions. I saw the D&D Minis system but never played it. I had a few friends who did. It seemed like simplified 4E combat, which is actually a compliment in my book. :)

      I think Chainmail should work fine on a grid, since movement is in table inches. I can just transfer that to squares/hexes (although looking at the numbers I may halve it, making each square/hex "2 table inches" worth of size).

      I am playing around with the numbers. The fantasy combat tables are fine. The big problem is, should I convert the normal Chainmail combat results from d6 die pools to 2d6 rolls (I did the math, heavy cavalry is nigh unstoppable and light infantry all but worthless unless in massive numbers, which they won't be in my game)? Or should I just decide on a standard weapon for each troop type and use a line on the man-to-man combat results table? It evens the playing field a lot, depending on the weapon used, but then there's less differentiation by troop type.

      Also, I need to cludge together some numbers for normal troops to be able to attack fantastic opponents besides heroes, superheroes, giants and trolls/ogres. I mean, a squad of footmen should have some chance to destroy a roc or some ghouls, right? Then again, maybe their purpose should be like pawns in chess...there to provide cover for the 'real' pieces.

      It's fun to ponder the possibilities.

  3. D&D Mini was great if you kept a tight range of values, as stroner creatures would be invulnerrable to weaker ones (always my gripe with post 2e D&D). But it was very enjoyable.

    1. That's another issue I'm seeing with Chainmail. By the book, regular troops can only damage heroes, superheroes, giants and ogres/trolls. All the other fantastic beasts are immune (including wizards). So the last person with a fantastic figure in play will win.

      That's why I'm trying to figure out fair numbers for regular troops to use to attack the fantastic creatures (and vice versa).