GM’s Guide: Mass Combat Terrain, Traits, and Sample Units

Terrain

Different terrain types have different effects on units currently inside them. Unless otherwise stated, terrain has no effects on units entering it. The speed cost is to leave the hex, not to enter it, and of course the bonuses to attack and defense apply only to those units currently in the hex.

Aquatic: Impassable without a swim (or fly) speed. Units without a swim speed who end up here anyway will sink and be unable to move (and also usually drown).
Hills: Requires 2 speed to exit, +2 defense in melee.
Forest: Requires 2 speed to exit, +2 defense, -2 attack.
Mountain: Requires 3 speed to exit, +4 defense in melee.
Swamp: Requires 4 speed to exit, +4 defense in melee, -2 attack.
Town: Requires 2 speed to exit, +2 defense.
Underdark: Requires 3 speed to exit, +2 defense at range, +4 defense in melee.

Some terrain features can be added to any hex. These aren’t terrain types (and thus, for example, cannot be selected as a favored terrain for the Terrain Master trait), but provide bonuses to the unit occupying the same hex as them.

Castle: Requires 2 speed to exit, +4 defense.
River: Requires 3 speed to exit for units without a swim (or fly) speed.

Traits

Units can have inherent traits, representing special training or inherent physical features of the soldiers in that unit. Leaders can also have traits, representing special tactics or styles of leadership. Regardless of whether they’re inherent to the unit or granted by a leader, a unit’s traits grant special effects, usually allowing them to ignore certain rules of combat. Most leaders have one or two traits, and PCs acting as leaders should be granted one or two traits off of the list as appropriate to their character class, background, and place in the narrative.

Many traits are formations. A unit can only be in one formation at a time, and may only change formations during the skirmish phase, before any movement has occurred, and when not engaged in melee. As soon as a unit moves at least one hex or takes any kind of action (except to change facing), they are stuck in their current formation until the next time they’re activated.

The traits given below are intended to be a bit like the officially released Monster Manual: Hopefully sufficient for most campaigns, but you might find yourself having to design your own. If you do find yourself needing to design a new trait, use these as guidelines.

Ambush(X): This unit can hide itself in forest, hill, mountain, swamp or Underdark terrain, along with any terrain it has the Terrain Expert trait for. While hidden, this unit cannot engage or be engaged in melee, nor can it make or be targeted by ranged attacks. Commanders of adjacent units may make a Perception check against the DC listed in parentheses to reveal the unit. The hidden unit is automatically revealed if they make any kind of attack. A hidden unit may make a flanking attack on any adjacent unit, no matter which way they’re facing.
Berserker: This unit can enter into a berserker frenzy. At any time during a skirmish phase in which this unit is activated, it may sacrifice up to three defense dice and gain up to three attack dice instead.
Blaster(X/Y): This unit has access to a fair number of casters with powerful area of effect spells. These spells are too short range to be used from a hex or more away and are too wide-radius to be used after the melee is joined, but it can utterly devastate an enemy closing to melee range. Immediately after an enemy not engaged with friendly forces engages this unit in melee, this unit may roll an attack with attack dice equal to the second number listed in parentheses. The second number in parentheses completely replace the normal attack pool, including gear, power, and training, but morale dice still contribute and bonuses from terrain or traits are calculated as normal. This attack counts as a ranged attack (so enemies in close formation, for example, are going to have a bad time). This unit may use this ability a number of times equal to the first number listed in parentheses before requiring a long rest to use it again. If the first number is a -, the ability may be used indefinitely.
Charge: During the skirmish phase, this unit may move at least one hex in a straight line and then make a melee attack on an enemy unit. If the defending unit survives the charge attack, this unit is now engaged in melee with the defending unit as normal. A charge does not allow a unit to move faster than its speed.
Close Formation: In this formation, a unit adds half again as many attack and defense dice as normal in melee attacks (including charges or flanking attacks) rounded up, however they roll only half as many defense dice when defending against ranged attacks, again rounded up, and the speed penalty for moving through rough terrain is doubled. For example, a unit with three attack and defense dice would add two dice to each pool for a total five attack and defense dice when in melee, but would only roll two defense dice against ranged attacks.
Flying: This unit can fly and ignores all terrain penalties to speed. At the end of its movement, it may choose to land and be affected by both terrain bonuses and penalties to attack/defense or to remain airborne and be affected by neither.
Guidance: Whenever this unit rolls attack, they may reroll any misses once per roll.
Healer(X): This unit is stocked deep with healing and defense magic. When activated, this unit may heal themselves or an adjacent unit of battlefield casualties while also buffing their frontline fighters. The healers roll their defense and may grant any hits they receive to the targeted unit. That unit may use them to soak hits until the start of the healer unit’s commander’s next turn (so, if Laurana and Kitiara are commanding opposing armies and Laurana activates a healer unit to support another unit, that healer unit’s hits are available to soak incoming damage until the start of Laurana’s next turn, including the melee phase and Kitiara’s next skirmish phase, regardless of what order those occur in). Any hits still unsoaked when the healing expires may be converted to morale dice for the target unit, up to that unit’s starting morale value. This ability may be used a number of times as indicated in parentheses before the healer unit must take a long rest to use it again. If the number is a -, the ability may be used indefinitely.
Inspiring(X): When this unit is affected by a unit with the Terror trait, this commander may roll their CHA save (listed in parentheses) to cancel the effect of that trait and prevent their unit from losing any morale.
Loose Formation: In this formation, a unit adds half again as many defense dice as normal against ranged attacks, rounded up, however they roll only half as many attack and defense dice in melee (including charges and flanking attacks), again rounded up.
Necromancer(X): Whenever a unit adjacent to this one is routed and annihilated (i.e. their commander fails their INT save), this unit may raise an undead unit in their place.
Precognition: Whenever this unit rolls defense, they may reroll any misses once per roll.
Regeneration: At the end of each melee phase, this unit regains one morale die, up to the value they entered the battle with.
Relentless: This unit may make two attacks in the melee attack phase. Both of these attacks may target the same enemy unit or they may target separate units.
Resourceful: The commander of this unit is good at foiling enemy tricks. When activated, this unit may cancel one trait of their choice. The trait does not take effect for any units adjacent to this unit, nor for any unit targeting this unit from range. As an example, if a Resourceful commander cancels the Healer trait, adjacent units cannot heal or be healed for this round. If they cancel a formation trait, adjacent units using that formation revert back to using a normal formation. Regardless of which trait is targeted, it remains cancelled until the start of this unit’s commander’s next turn (or until someone cancels this trait, for example, if they use their own Resourceful commander in an adjacent hex and choose to cancel the Resourceful trait).
Spear Wall Formation: In this formation, when charged in one of their frontward faces by a unit with the Charge trait, this unit can make a simultaneous counterattack with double attack dice.
Teleport(X): This unit can teleport a number of times as indicated in parentheses. The unit may activate this teleportation at any time, including when it is not their turn or when they haven’t been activated this turn. When activated, the teleportation targets a certain hex and the unit rolls their morale dice alone. If they get at least one hit, they arrive on target. Otherwise, they’ve fumbled the spell under pressure and scatter. The commander must make a CHA save to rally the unit as though they had routed, but the save DC is decreased by 2 for every die of morale the unit has left. On a failure, the unit actually routs. On a success, the unit is scattered throughout the nearby area and will need to be activated once just to regroup before it can then be activated normally.
[Terrain] Expert: This unit is extremely adept at moving through a certain type of terrain. They do not take speed penalties when moving through this terrain type, nor do they take penalties to attack or defense in this terrain type (for example, a Forest Expert unit does not take speed penalties, nor do they take attack penalties for making a ranged attack out of the hex, but they do still gain a defense bonus). You may also ignore the bonuses enemies gain from this terrain type (for example, a Forest Expert attacking into a forest hex denies the occupant of that hex their usual defense bonus). This applies only to attacks made by the Terrain Expert unit itself, the bonus still applies to attacks made by any units allied to the Terrain Expert.
Terror(X): This unit is horrifying. Any unit adjacent to this one automatically loses one morale. They regain the lost morale if they move out of adjacency with this unit. If one of the affected units is led by an inspiring commander, that commander must roll their CHA save against the DC in parentheses to cancel the effect. If this trait comes from a commander and not the unit, the listed DC is 10 plus the commander’s CHA save by default, unless their intimidation is supernatural, in which case it will be the save corresponding to their casting stat.
Turtle Formation: A unit in this formation is abysmally slow but nearly impervious to missile fire. This unit’s speed is reduced by half, rounded up, and they double their defense dice against any ranged attacks made against them.

Sample Units

Ancient Red Dragon
Morale: 3
Attack: 6
-Training: 1
-Gear: 2
-Power: 3
Defense: 6
-Discipline: 3
-Gear: 2
-Durability: 1
Speed: 5
Range: 1
Traits: Blaster (-/8), Flying, Relentless, Terror(23)

Angelic Host
Morale: 4
Attack: 5
-Training: 1
-Gear: 2
-Power: 2
Defense: 6
-Discipline: 3
-Gear: 2
-Durability: 1
Speed: 6
Range: 1
Traits: Healer, Loose Formation

Centaur Tribe
Morale: 3
Attack: 2/3
-Training: 0
-Gear: 0/1
-Power: 2
Defense: 2
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 1
Speed: 3
Range: 5
Traits: Charge, Forest Expert, Loose Formation

Death Knight Cavalry
Morale: 3
Attack: 3
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 2
Defense: 6
-Discipline: 3
-Gear: 2
-Durability: 1
Speed: 4
Range: 1
Traits: Blaster(1/5), Charge, Loose Formation, Necromancer(Skeleton Infantry), Terror(20)

Demonic Host
Morale: 4
Attack: 4
-Training: 0
-Gear: 1
-Power: 3
Defense: 2
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Loose Formation, Terror(17)

Dragon Riders
Morale: 3
Attack: 6
-Training: 1
-Gear: 2
-Power: 3
Defense: 5
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: 2
-Durability: 1
Speed: 5
Range: 1
Traits: Blaster(-/6), Flying, Terror(18)

Drow Archers
Morale: 2
Attack: 2/1
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 1/0
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 0
-Durability: -1
Speed: 2
Range: 4
Traits: Ambush, Close Formation, Underdark Expert

Drow Spider Cavalry
Morale: 3
Attack: 2
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 1
Defense: 2
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 0
Speed: 2
Range: 2
Traits: Ambush, Charge, Loose Formation, Underdark Expert

Drow Infantry
Morale: 2
Attack: 1
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 0
Defense: 1
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 1
-Durability: -1
Speed: 2
Range: 2
Traits: Ambush, Loose Formation, Underdark Expert

Dwarven Infantry
Morale: 2
Attack: 1
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 0
Defense: 3
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Close Formation, Mountain Expert, Spear Wall Formation, Turtle Formation

Efreet Company
Morale: 2
Attack: 3
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 2
Defense: 4
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 1
Speed: 4
Range: 1
Traits: Blaster (1/5), Close Formation, Flying, Loose Formation

Elven Archers
Morale: 2
Attack: 1
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 0
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 0
-Durability: -1
Speed: 2
Range: 5
Traits: Ambush, Forest Expert, Loose Formation

Fire Giant Company
Morale: 2
Attack: 6
-Training: 1
-Gear: 2
-Power: 3
Defense: 5
-Discipline: 3
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 2
Traits: Close Formation, Loose Formation, Mountain Expert, Turtle Formation

Frost Giant Company
Morale: 2
Attack: 6
-Training: 1
-Gear: 2
-Power: 3
Defense: 3
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 2
Traits: Close Formation, Loose Formation, Mountain Expert

Ghoul Swarm
Morale: 2
Attack: 2
-Training: 0
-Gear: 0
-Power: 2
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: -1
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Relentless, Terror(12)

Goblin Skirmishers
Morale: 2
Attack: 0
-Training: 0
-Gear: 0
-Power: -1
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: 1
-Durability: -1
Speed: 1
Range: 2
Traits: Forest Expert, Loose Formation

Goblin Warg Riders
Morale: 2
Attack: 1
-Training: 0
-Gear: 0
-Power: 1
Defense: 1
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 0
Speed: 3
Range: 1
Traits: Charge, Forest Expert, Loose Formation

Halfling Skirmishers
Morale: 3
Attack: 0
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0/-1
-Power: -1
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 0
-Durability: -1
Speed: 2
Range: 2
Traits: Ambush, Hills Expert, Loose Formation

Hobgoblin Infantry
Morale: 2
Attack: 1
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 0
Defense: 3
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 0
Speed: 1
Range: 5
Traits: Close Formation, Loose Formation, Turtle Formation

Hobgoblin Cavalry
Morale: 2
Attack: 2
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 1
Defense: 4
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 1
Speed: 3
Range: 5
Traits: Charge, Loose Formation

Holy Order
Morale: 3
Attack: 2
-Training: 1
-Gear: 1
-Power: 0
Defense: 3
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 0
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Close Formation, Healer(3), Loose Formation

Hydra Cavalry
Morale: 2
Attack: 4
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 3
Defense: 3
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Charge, Loose Formation, Regeneration, Terror(12)

Infernal Host
Morale: 4
Attack: 4
-Training: 1
-Gear: 2
-Power: 1
Defense: 6
-Discipline: 3
-Gear: 2
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 5
Traits: Close Formation, Loose Formation, Terror(18)

Manticore Cavalry
Morale: 2
Attack: 3
-Training: 1
-Gear: 0
-Power: 2
Defense: 4
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 1
Speed: 3
Range: 2
Traits: Charge, Flying, Loose Formation, Terror(12)

Ogre Horde
Morale: 2
Attack: 2
-Training: 0
-Gear: -1
-Power: 3
Defense: 2
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Loose Formation, Terror(10)

Orc Archers
Morale: 2
Attack: 1/2
-Training: 0
-Gear: 1/0
-Power: 1
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 0
Speed: 2
Range: 5
Traits: Mountain Expert

Orc Horde
Morale: 2
Attack: 2
-Training: 0
-Gear: 1
-Power: 1
Defense: 1
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 0
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Mountain Expert

Orc Wolf Riders
Morale: 2
Attack: 3
-Training: 0
-Gear: 1
-Power: 2
Defense: 3
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: 2
-Durability: 1
Speed: 3
Range: 1
Traits: Mountain Expert

Pegasus Cavalry
Morale: 2
Attack: 3
-Training: 1
-Gear: 1
-Power: 1
Defense: 2
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 0
Speed: 6
Range: 1
Traits: Charge, Flying, Loose Formation

Skeleton Archers
Morale: 4
Attack: 0
-Training: 0
-Gear: -1
-Power: 0
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 0
Speed: 2
Range: 5
Traits: Close Formation, Loose Formation, Terror(10)

Skeleton Cavalry
Morale: 4
Attack: 0
-Training: 0
-Gear: 0
-Power: 0
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 0
Speed: 4
Range: 1
Traits: Charge, Loose Formation, Terror(10)

Skeleton Infantry
Morale: 4
Attack: 0
-Training: 0
-Gear: -1
-Power: 0
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 0
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Close Formation, Loose Formation, Terror(10)

Tarrasque
Morale: 3
Attack: 3
-Training: 0
-Gear: 0
-Power: 3
Defense: 2
-Discipline: 1
-Gear: 0
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Charge, Regeneration, Relentless, Terror(19)

Troll Swarm
Morale: 2
Attack: 2
-Training: 0
-Gear: -1
-Power: 3
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: -1
-Durability: 1
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Regeneration, Relentless, Terror(12)

Unicorn Cavalry
Morale: 2
Attack: 2
-Training: 1
-Gear: 1
-Power: 0
Defense: 3
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 0
Speed: 3
Range: 1
Traits: Charge, Healer (1), Loose Formation, Regeneration

Wizard Order
Morale: 3
Attack: 0
-Training: 1
-Gear: -1
-Power: 0
Defense: 1
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: -1
-Durability: 0
Speed: 2
Range: 1
Traits: Blaster (3/4), Loose Formation, Teleport(1)

Wyvern Cavalry
Morale: 2
Attack: 2
-Training: 1
-Gear: 1
-Power: 0
Defense: 3
-Discipline: 2
-Gear: 1
-Durability: 0
Speed: 5
Range: 1
Traits: Charge, Flying, Loose Formation

Zombie Horde
Morale: 4
Attack: 0
-Training: 0
-Gear: -1
-Power: 0
Defense: 0
-Discipline: 0
-Gear: -1
-Durability: 1
Speed: 1
Range: 1
Traits: Close Formation, Loose Formation, Terror(10)

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