Every Version of D&D Part III: Monsters and Treasure

Monsters and Treasures

Okay, so I’ve been writing other stuff for awhile now, and I’ve been neglectful of this little series of naked hubris.  So back to it with Monsters and Treasure, Volume 2 of OD&D.

The table that opens the book displays its wargame roots to me.  Monsters are presented here as a list, rather than as encyclopedia type entries that you see in the Monster Manual and onwards.  The former suggests a selection from which to choose, while the latter suggests reference material for something you've already chosen.  The entries look to be sorted roughly by category (undead are together, mean humanoids are together, foresty/fae type guys are together, et cetera).  It would have been handy for these to have been called out specifically, like we see in later “encounter by terrain” type tables, but the thought was already there. Finally, you’ve gotta admire the brevity of the “stat block” given.  It even makes S&W’s justly praised concise stats seem extensive.

Again we see some assumptions that you’re familiar with Chainmail if you’re bothering to buy this game.  I have to wonder how much of this was just  carry over from the document starting out as “the fantasy supplement” to Chainmail that was never changed, and how much was because they assumed people buying this new product (D&D) would already be Chainmail fans (or was it a subtle way to try to “push” Chainmail?).

And as we get into the actual monster descriptions, there are a few things I find interesting: men are given an extensive treatment compared to their treatment as “monsters” in later editions.  I think this is partly because later editions figure “we already told you how to make characters and NPCs, you can just do that for bad guys”, but I think it also reveals a preference for humans as the “default” opponent that was worn away in favor of monsters and humanoids in later versions.  It makes sense, considering the game started as “medieval battles (all humans) + monsters”. 

As we get into actual monsters, the brief descriptions focus entirely on “tactical” considerations, even if they are flavorful (“will attack dwarves on sight” and so on).  There are some interesting implicit “setting” details that come out, such as detailing goblin kings and that there are varied tribes of orcs, some in villages, some in caves.  Gnolls and Trolls get a little bit of pure flavor text.

The tradition of giving Dragons one of the most extended entries starts early and starts strong (they are in the title, after all).  The “attack/damage modifier by element type” table is interesting, I had forgotten it was there.  Are these retained in later versions, just spelled out on a by dragon basis? It’s kind of cool seeing it as a “system” of sorts.  Oh, and the “subduing dragons” section is one of my favorites from OD&D.  When I first found it, I couldn’t believe they had such specific rules spelled out for dragons only.  This rule just screams “made up for a very specific event in play that became common place” rather than made up to be complete or to cover everything.  It’s also interesting that the dragons choice of attack is shown as being diced for, rather than decided by the referee. 

Well, that's one way to subdue a dragon

Overall, for such a tiny booklet, it is surprising to me how complete the monster list is.  So many monsters that became staples of D&D are right there.  It’s pretty admirable, really.  Sure, the AD&D 2E Monstrous Manual was probably the very first gaming book I ever bought from a store (the PHB I got from a friend), and it is a lovely and inspirational book, but as with the rest of OD&D, the terse entries presuppose that I can handle detailing stuff and making it interesting myself, and just give me some help on the stats. 

Now, as for the Treasure section, I’ve gotta say, the tables make my eyes cross a little bit.  I’m sure there’s all sorts of interesting stuff to be gleaned by examining the probabilities of different outcomes, and I’m sure it supports the whole “dice tell you what the world is like” mindset that I find it useful to cultivate as a referee, but I can’t perform that analysis right now.  My own preferences for rare magic items have led me to using other systems, though perhaps I should re-evaluate the assumptions in the tables about rate of reward to challenge, since I feel like I’ve gotten off on that in my own game.

The magic sword section is pleasingly detailed and insane.  It’s pretty obvious that Gygax and Arneson (or their friends) had Stormbringer in mind for a lot of the design here.  It’s also surprising that magic swords get so much treatment when they’re not super rare by the treasure tables (I think; again, no in-depth analysis here).  Perhaps this was an early attempt at a solution to “but what makes fighters special as they level up?” Though the Egoism rules suggest an attempt at also building in “but how to keep low level fighters from getting too powerful too quick by one lucky treasure break”. That’s a problem I’m facing right now in my game, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s been there from the get go at least for some folks.

With the magic items, there is a similar familiarity as seen with monsters, but in this case it is less pleasing to me.  This list gives the impression of “here’s some wacky stuff we thought up either because it would be fun/weird, because it was in a story we read, or because it came up in play that it would make sense.” Or at least, that's how the list comes across if I force myself not to read it as “standard D&D magic items”.  Because all of these became the assumed default magic items, and time changed them from a list of examples to a list of assumptions to a list of guarantees.

Ye Olde Magical Boot Shoppe.  What is this, Diagon Alley?

Copper coins are worth a little more, 1/50th gold, rather than 1/500th.  Interesting.  Oh, and I’ve been doing some research for encumbrance rules, and it turns out that 10 coins to the pound isn’t that crazy – for silver.  Gold coins were way lighter than silver coins, because the metal was worth so much more, people made much smaller, thinner coins.  I’m finding the “silver standard” of games like LotFP to make more and more sense.  Plus it adds the chance to make the default coin the heaviest and hardest to transport, hah!

Well, that was pretty rambly.  Next up we’ll conclude the original White Box with “The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures”, with the Supplements to follow (I may jam them all into one less detailed entry).

Fellhold Session 34 Recap and Supplemental Optional Library Rules

Research, research, research.  This session was pretty much entirely the players using the library in the Fyrberg temple to try to find out more about the history of Gurgu, Gurguism, and the complex in the mountain.  It dragged a little, as everyone was researching different stuff, and I had to narrate results of their researches to each person individually.  Also, describing what you’ve read in ancient texts isn’t always the most interesting experience.  But overall I think the players got some useful info, overlooked some useful stuff as unimportant, and came up with some sharp observations on the improved information they found.

But with more clay tablets

During their researching, they found that a wizard (they still haven’t found his name) became obsessed with immortality (nothing new there) and that he decided the elemental power of fire was the key to it.  Hence his volcano lair.  Yllgrad the dwarf found a number of dwarven texts giving more information on Fellhold, as well as the excavation and waterworks of Fyrberg.  The players discovered that the ornate summoning circles in the floor in sections of the temple allow people with little to no magical ability to summon elemental beings, but that such circles only work in nodes closely connected to an elemental plane (like a volcano, an oceanic trench, deep in a mountain, et cetera).  This wizard kind of glossed over all of the non-fire ones. He also had researched extensively binding elemental forces into physical objects in his quest for extended life.

As to the religion of Gurgu (these writings were more recent, and therefore in a language that everyone could read, not just the hyper-literate Bryni), they found out a few things.  They discovered that the original prophet of Gurgu was a man named Nar, and that he preached all the stuff the party has already come to know about Gurgu (cleanse the mind, body, and spirit, the fires of the world are the primordial life force, et cetera).  They discovered that he was denounced by a man named Klog, finding both an anti-Gurgu screed by Klog and a religious document detailing their conflict.  The screed claimed that Gurgu was a dumb elemental and that Nar was a fake.  The religious text claimed that Klog was a wicked man who refused to accept the knowledge and power of Gurgu and tried to kill Nar in his jealousy.  But Nar summoned Gurgu’s avatar, who cast Klog into the Fyrberg, where his spirit could be cleansed and become one with the fires of Gurgu, despite his unbelief. 

Other than the research, Sir Varian decided to throw the town a victory feast, and somehow in the celebration (thanks to Jeff Rients’ excellent carousing table) he ended up getting inducted into the priesthood of Gurgu.  Not just a member of the church like the others, but an actual initiate.  We’ll see how that shakes out.  The rest of the group is starting to suspect that Gurgu might not be a god at all, but just a big lava elemental.  They’re debating how and if to reveal it to his followers to disabuse them of their false ways, and afterwards either returning to Mickleheim or taking advantage of the extension they purchased from their ship’s captains to go check out some mysterious coastal ruins. 

Our first carousing mishap, woohoo!

Other than that, after the game we discussed adding some more games to our rotation once we reach a good stopping point.  I’ve been itching to be a player in something, but I wanted to make sure we got some of the slow burn enjoyment out of an ongoing campaign.  Hopefully a rotation will allow each game to be enjoyed maximally.

Some Further Optional Library Rules
You should probably start with the library rules found in the Vornheim Complete City Kit because they are awesome.

But if you've, say, sorted your library into topics and the players are trying to find out about specific subjects that the library has a reasonable chance of covering, then use the following rules to supplement:

1) Anything that can reasonably be found with enough time and effort that the players can read, just tell them.  D&D probably doesn't need to be about complex research.
2) That being said, if time and/or effort are limited, if some characters have more ability than others, or if information within the library might be hidden or obscure, do the following:
- Pick a period of time based on the size and complexity of the library or physical area being searched
- Each player searching for that time period rolls 1d20 per language applicable to that section that they know. Consider adding another die if the character has established they are particularly good at scholarly pursuits or if they are a magic user
- If they roll equal to or under their intelligence, they learn something useful.  Consider adjusting how useful based on how much they pass the test by, but keep in mind point 1) above.  
- Make sure to take into account any smart strategies the players come up with to maximize success.  The only reason we're rolling for stuff is if it's interesting to have a chance of using up resources and making meaningful decisions.
3) If a player passes an intelligence test, but they specified they were looking into stuff not relevant to the overall purpose, then make sure they find something potentially useful or interesting that would make sense to be in this library
4) If the library contains any spellbooks or scrolls and is searched by someone who could know, like a magic user, and they specify that's what they're looking for, follow the procedure above, and then determine the number and composition of spells.  If you don't have anything specific in mind, roll 1d6 for level and the closest die size for number of spells in a spell level to randomly determine spells.

A New Home

So, I realized how much I was using Google+ and how frustrating it was to comment on blogs awkwardly with my wordpress account.  So, here I am on blogspot.  I'm still making tweaks to the layout, but otherwise, things should continue the same, but now with easier integration with Google+ (Which is where most of my traffic comes from anyway).

Review of "Better than Any Man" and Mercenary Group Recruitment

So, after my enthusiastic blurb the other day, I figured “Better than Any Man” warranted a full review after I finished reading it last night. So, here that review is.


First off, for those that might not know, what is “Better than Any Man” (hereafter referred to as BTAM)?  BTAM is a meaty adventure/mini-sandbox written by James Raggi for his Lamentations of the Flame Princess Adventures line and specifically for “Free RPG Day 2013”.  It intentionally flies in the face of the Free RPG Day guidelines, and is about 1000 times better on account of it.

For those odd few not familiar with Raggi, he does a better job establishing what he’s about than I ever could, so allow me to quote from his “Author’s Notes” to set the tone:

"Welcome to LotFP's Free RPG Day adventure! It isn't what it is supposed to be. 

We were told "Include quickstarter rules!" We were advised to create a short introductory/teaser adventure.  We were warned to make it suitable for all audiences.

We didn't do that. You know why?


That is the amount of fucks we give about what we're supposed to do."

I was glad to have made the drive to the Friendly Not-Quite Local Game Store to pick this up after having read just that.

Now, before I get into the adventure itself, let me clarify my relationship as a referee to Raggi’s work.  Honestly, I find most of his stuff too weird/horrific/game-changing to want to include it in my regular campaign as is.  That being said, I’d say that his published adventures are possibly the most useful I’ve bought because they force me to think in different ways and expose me to fantastically weird ideas I would never have on my own. Also, Raggi’s style of adventures and excellent referee advice in Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Roleplaying (LotFP) have helped me develop the crucial referee skill of not softballing my players.  Sometimes you gotta pull the trigger, and sometimes that trigger is a save or die trap.  While I’ve wholesale lifted more material from adventures by others (Gygax, Matt Finch, and so forth), Raggi’s stuff has done far more to push me out of my referee comfort zone, and that’s all to the good.

With all that out of the way, let’s talk about BTAM itself, cos that’s why you’re here, right? As mentioned, this thing is big.  96 pages in an A5 format, with teeny double column text, so there’s a lot of content there.  A lot a lot of content.  New monsters, spells, some seriously creepy NPCs, a fully statted out town, half a dozen sketched out towns, each with something of interest mentioned, something like 5 mapped and keyed adventure locations, even some surprisingly compact and functional firearms rules squeezed into a box in a corner. Oh yeah, and one hell of a time pressure creator in the form of the Swedish Army behind King Gustavus Adolphus.


If you haven’t been checking out Raggi’s recent stuff, this whole “Swedish” and “Firearms” business is probably freaking you out.  From the get go, LotFP has had a decidedly early modern flavor, but Raggi’s been pushing it even more recently, and has even taken to writing most of his material for the real world.  Initially I found this extremely off-putting.  Like, “why would I even buy that?” off-putting. After reading some positive reviews, and thinking about, and letting an extant interest in the early modern period percolate some more, though, I’ve come around.  Here’s the rationale: A) It’s super easy to translate real-world stuff into fantasy equivalents if you want to, since that’s where about 90% of fantasy content comes from anyway, B) as a game with a horror focus, it is a cheap but super effective short cut to create the necessary “grounding” to contrast with the real horror, C) All of that boring background and setting detailing is totally already done and available and D) It turns out the early modern period is a pretty good fit for standard D&D assumptions: lots of war, small, scattered states, superstition and magic, vast unexplored tracts of land peopled by dangerous intelligent humanoids (in this case actual humans), and even professional adventurers who do nothing but travel the world looking for ways to get valuable through violence and craft.

Basically, I’ve gone from finding the idea of a historical early modern game of D&D completely awful to finding it extremely compelling.  I’m way more likely to incorporate early modern elements into some other fantasy world, but I would actually consider running a historical game at this point. BTAM is the product that actually convinced me of it.

Speaking of which, good Lord am I talking about a lot of tangential stuff and not the adventure itself.  So, the cover of the adventure is not attached, and inside of it is a lovely color map showing the keyed locations and the surrounding terrain.  It depicts a part of Lower Franconia (Holy Roman Empire = crazy confusing.  Just think “basically Germany” for now) that may or may not be geographically accurate, I don’t know.  But there’s plenty or space to wander around in, some really high quality random wilderness encounters, and the seeds of ideas for some of the less-detailed towns.  The adventure has a fair number of these “you make it up, you’re the referee!” which I think is pretty great.  I mean, I’m so unlikely to run the adventure “straight” as is, that the prospect of embellishing some other things on my own is no big deal.

The items and spells have the typical Raggi flavor of “serious consequences for magic use”.  I found more of these to be potentially actually useful rather than straight up “you are screwed for even considering using magic, dummy”, which some of the magic items I’ve seen in his adventures previously come across as (I’m looking at you, everything from Devan’ku). In this adventure, I think the consequences are either rare enough or live-withable enough to instead present a compelling picture of “magic has a cost, but it works”.  There’s still the odd screw job to remind players that it really is kind of shitty to rob graves and callously kill everybody and steal things, but overall, it’s a little more adventure and a little less “we’re here to see how much awful stuff you will do/put up with”.

BTAM also does an admirable job of setting up a few “reveals” without having a “plot” per se.  This is done by seeding bits of information in different locations, such that no matter how you approach them, you’ll get a slowly growing picture of what’s going on, rather than requiring specific clues or investigative techniques.

Finally, BTAM possesses a quality I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and that is modularity.  Now, I don’t mean in the sense that the whole adventure is a module you can drop in to any campaign world with minimal fuss (though it’s pretty decent for that too, if you can substitute in an appropriate invading army).  What I mean is that each element is highly useful by itself.  The elements fit together into an interesting and flavorful whole, with lots of links, but you don’t have to use all of them to use any of them.  The spells given could be found in any suitably creepy wizard’s spellbook.  The Shrine to the Insect God could go just about anywhere, the town of Karlstadt and its unique rulership could be dropped into most places, the monsters could appear on their own, et cetera.  So BTAM, besides being an interesting and well done adventure is also a pretty jam-packed toolkit.  I would venture that just about any referee/GM/DM/whatever will find at least one thing they would like to use in their game unchanged, and at least a dozen more that might take some minor tweaking, and who knows how much that serves as rough inspiration for something pretty different.

Long story short: if you weren’t lucky enough to get a backer copy for kickstarting this (like me) or to pick one up at Free RPG Day (unlike me) totally buy the PDF when it comes out.  Raggi has mentioned on Google+ that it will feature some upgrades (more printer and e-reader friendly, “loosened up” layout, stuff like that).  And don’t forget that the complete LotFP rules are available without art for free from RPGNow.  Even if you aren’t into the weird fantasy/horrific angle, they’re a pretty robust version of D&D with some good encumbrance and wilderness/overseas travel rules.

Rating: 5/5 – Enthusiastic Recommendation, especially if you don’t think you’d like it

Recruiting Groups of Mercenaries for an expedition

This is the first installment (well, second if you count the mass combat rules) of the modular rules I'm developing for an adventuring company expedition set of rules.  The idea is that you can plug it into a lot of different systems, or use the whole thing as its own setting/game variant.

When you hire a group of otherwise nondescript mercenaries for an expedition, you can use one of the following options:

1) Randomly generate each and every individual and keep track of them as separate hirelings, as you would for any standard adventure. This works best with normal sized expeditions (say, no more than 1o or 12, and when a high level of detail in play is desired) where all players are together, so that a lot of detail isn't leaving anybody out.

2) Treat the group of hirelings/mercenaries as one "individual".  For the sake of ease, every ability score is equal to 8+1d4 (these are thoroughly average people), but randomly determine one ability and add 1d6 to it for every 6 members of the group (there's one exceptional individual).  HP are equal to the number of members' HD, and all members must be equipped identically.  If using a skill system of some sort, give the group one advance past starting, but otherwise consider it to have default levels.  Additional advances can be bought using whatever system is appropriate.

3) Use a skirmish rules system of your choice to keep track of groups of mercenaries/hirelings (Mordheim is a natural choice as it was a large inspiration for these rules in the first place)


Free RPG Day

So, yesterday was "Free RPG Day".  For those of you who don't know, participating game stores buy boxes from the Free RPG Day organizers which are chock full of free game material.  Usually this consists of one-off adventures, quick start versions of rules, that kind of thing.  And for Castles & Crusades, Dungeon Crawl Classics, and Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, that is precisely what I got (there were some others, but I didn't want to grab stuff just for the sake of grabbing stuff when other people might get more use out of it).  But this year had the totally awesome not-quick-start, not-all-ages-appropriate "Better than Any Man" by James Raggi from his own Lamentations of the Flame Princess line of adventures.  It's like a mini-campaign setting (Lower Franconia being invaded by the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus - yes, it is a historical setting, just like "The God That Crawls").  I'm about halfway through reading it now, and it is awesome.  Tons of disturbing content, chock full of Raggi's signature "not just kill your characters, but fundamentally alter them and/or the world" spells and encounters.  Much like "The God That Crawls" I will personally most likely not follow Raggi's advice from the referee book in the Grindhouse edition of LotFP - which is to make only the tweaks necessary to make an adventure fit in your world and then nothing else - because, well, I'm just not that mean.   But I like to include some of his stuff to force myself to play for keeps.


If you were not lucky enough to have a participating local game store, or to make it to one, Mr. Raggi plans to have a few leftovers available for cheap from the online store soon.  Or you could talk to some people who maybe did get their hands on one.  And once the exclusivity of getting one at Free RPG Day wears off, I think he's talked about making a PDF version available for sale.  If so, I super recommend you get it. Really just ridiculous how much good stuff is packed in there for free.  It's bigger than all previous LotFP adventures, so it's easily worth 15-20 bucks print and 5-10 pdf.  And that's a low-ball.  He could probably ask for more and it'd be worth it.  So, sorry to gush, but it's good, it's exciting, and you should try to find it.

Fellhold Session 32 and 33 Recap and Quick and Dirty Mass Combat Rules

Session 32 started out with a lot of technical issues for everyone participating.  I suspect it had to do with the changes Google had just made to the hangouts/video chat format.  Speaking of which, I miss my posts about hangouts displaying the name of the video chat, because that was the primary way I reminded myself what session number we were on for the blog.  Oh well, being able to count should be good enough for the most part.

The player characters decided to spend the night in Bjergby and then ask the priests about using their library in the morning.  They want to learn more about the history of Gurgu and confirm or reject some of the rumors they picked up in Mickleheim.  Their sleep was interrupted by the innkeeper pounding on their door, however.  Priests had run down from the temple to fetch the adventurers because they remembered Yllgrad the dwarf’s boasting about killing many foul beasts, and their temple was under attack.

Now, this set up *smacks* of being set up for the PCs benefits, right in the same vein as “then ninjas pop out!”, but here’s the God’s honest truth: okay, yes, having an attack from monsters from outside was thought up to make the location more of an “adventure”, and only came up because the players ended up visiting this place, so in that sense it’s “plotted”. But after deciding that bugbears from the deep would be an adventure element, their actions have been determined either independently or in reaction to the players.  I randomly determined a number of days until the bugbears planned to attack, and then decided that they had a spy on the island, and if the players said or did certain things in front of the spy, they would push their timetable up.  Turns out their scheduled attack was at 5:00 in the morning of this day.


Thanks Tony Diterlizzi

So, the players decided that if they help out the priests, maybe they’ll give them access to the temple in gratitude, and they occasionally have vague senses of doing the right thing.  When they show up, they are lead to the bottom two floors of the temple, and they are attacked with crossbow bolts out of patches of unnatural darkness! Yllgrad’s faithful hireling Nyllan is struck and falls headlong into the lava, bringing with him most of Yllgrad’s adventuring gear besides his armor and weapon! The adventurers charge into the darkness and find themselves fighting blind against trollkin (a bugbear and his hobgoblin slaves).

They manage to dispatch the hobgoblins pretty quickly, with the help of Sir Braxton, Caleb’s dog, and a few lucky critical hits.  The bugbear takes some serious damage and decides to flee.  The party presses on to fight another similar group with similar results, except this bugbear throws sleep gas grenades before fleeing (thanks to a suggestion on Google+ for the idea for using noxious fumes, which lead to the sleep gas grenade idea).  It puts Sir Braxton, a hireling, and Caleb to sleep, along with the lone surviving hobgoblin slave.  The party ties him up for questioning before moving on to the large melee.

See, as all of this has been going on, the main force of Bugbears, Hobgoblins, Trolls, and lightning lizards have been facing off against the priests and their summoned elemental.  Then they also summoned the avatar of Gurgu, and it pretty much went against the bugbears and their slaves after that.  The players’ ranged characters and henchmen contributed by picking off some leadership and killing two of the lightning lizards.  Being hard pressed, the bugbears retreated, leaving the enraged trolls and lightning lizards fighting. They threw sleep grenades, which promptly knocked out every single priest.  Fortunately, the elemental did not go out of control and kept the trolls busy, but Gurgu just stood there without direction from the priests.


By the time the players got there, the trolls had fled in the face of so much non-regenerating damage, and they helped Bjergmund clear the whole complex, thereby getting something of a tour.  During this clearing, they found a collapsed newly dug tunnel that was the apparent retreat point of the Bugbears and their forces.  Bjergmund also answered some questions about the temple and Gurgu, confirming that the temple was built by a wizard before Gurgu was worshipped, and that he selected it so that his library of clay tablets would be in hot, dry air.  For their help in defending the temple, the PCs were all offered free lifetime access to the baths, the chest containing the offerings  of the faithful, and a chest with fancy vestements, which the party gratefully accepted.  We had to end somewhat early due to a number of early appointments, and the party decided that next time they will seek out any alternative landing places on the island to confirm that the monsters really did come from deep under the earth and to go through the library to research Gurgu. If they complete that, they will return to Mickleheim to sell some loot and refit for future adventures.


Quick and Dirty Mass Combat Rules

Alternative 1 (slightly more concrete): Treat each side as a “character”.  Assign AC, HD, HP and morale based on the overall characteristics of the side (something like 1 HP per 1 HD monster/character is probably reasonable).  When players are not involved, each side fights as if a one on one fight.  Determine initiative normally and go from there.  If players get involved, have them make attacks on the side as if against a single character if they’re indiscriminate, or if they target someone in particular (like a leader) “zoom in” and alter the side’s “character” appropriately.  For example, if they kill a 3HD leader guy, deduct 3 HP from the side as a whole, and maybe test morale. Without other special circumstances (leaders killed, horrifying magic, et cetera) start testing morale after ¼ or ½ HP damage are taken.

Alternative 2 (more abstract and potentially more swingy): Assign each side a base morale value and a morale bonus or penalty.  Each combat round, roll a d20 for each side, and the higher roll wins that round.  Deduct a point from the losing side’s morale bonus (or increase the penalty by 1).  Test morale every round.  When one side fails a morale check, it flees.  Alter the morale modifiers appropriately for character actions (deduct points when they kill leaders or big monsters, add points when they rally the troops or lead a charge, whatever). This tends to assume fairly evenly matched forces, but if you want one side to have way better fighting ability, you can always modify the vs. d20 roll, or use Alternative 1 above.

Alternative 3 (most concrete): Roll up lots of creatures/characters.  Roll initiative.  Have a big ass fight with the normal rules.  Take careful notes to avoid going insane.  Budget a lot of time.

Morale Rolls: For these rules, a morale roll of 2d6 attempting  to roll under modified morale score is assumed.  Morale scores range from 2 (totally cowardly) to 12 (fanatically loyal).  Basic humans/humanoids with a normal stake in a fight can be assumed to be morale 7. A natural 2 always passes, and a natural 12 always fails.  Note that a modifier of +3 or greater will almost guarantee passing these rolls for Morale of 7 or greater.  If you have a different preferred morale system, go with that, but a 2 or more dice roll is recommended, so that you will have a normal distribution with most results clustering around the average (7) +/- 1 or 2.