Originally, I called used the title Weapons of the Gods to capture the central idea of this system- that of treating Armies essentially as weapons of their commanders, fighting melees on grand scales. Then, the actual Weapons of the Gods was published, and awesome. So, I'm changing my name :)
Armies are treated as equipment by their commanders- a unit (any group of individuals fighting together in a cohesive fashion and taking orders from a particular source) has a Speed, Accuracy, Damage, Defense and Rate, exactly as a normal weapon. These values are renamed, for the purposes of Heavenly Weapons and to provide Storytellers with a better idea of how to set them:
- Speed is Communication - a measure of how quickly the commander can get their orders to the appropriate people in the confusion of the battle. Speed has a strong relationship to the unit's Magnitude.
- Accuracy is Training. Troops that are more highly trained provide a greater Accuracy bonus. A unit's average (Dexterity + Combat Skill)/2 is a good eyeball for Training.
- Damage is Equipment. Troops that have superior equipment will deal greater harm to the enemy. The average Resources cost of a soldier's equipment is a good eyeball value for Equipment.
- Defense is Spirit. Troops that have a high morale and spirit will not break easily, and will fight all the longer. An average soldier's Valor is a good eyeball value for Spirit. For undead or other troops that simply do not break, they cap out at +3, unless the Storyteller specifically determines otherwise.
- Rate is Flexibility - it's a measure of how quickly the unit can act and react. Lightly armed skirmishers have a low speed; heavily armed shock infantry meant to grind through opponents have a high Flexibility. In general, the average Rate of the unit's predominent weaponry is a good Flexibility for the Unit.
- Finally, Units have Magnitude- the measure of their sheer numbers. Use the Magnitude from the Exalted Corebook as a gauge of the Magnitude of the unit.
- Wits becomes the base attribute for acting with an army; the appropriate pool is (Wits + War + Training) for attacks, and (Wits + War + Spirit)/2 for War Defense Value (WDV).
- Manipulation replaces Strength for base damage. Base damage dealt is Manipulation+Equipment.
- Charisma replaces Stamina for Soak. Basic soak is Charisma+Equipment.
- Join War is Wits + War - Magnitude.
- Commanders leading an army don't put themselves at the same risk as their troops; they don't neccesarily take damage when the army fights. Instead, the unit gets worn down. Units have the default 7 health level spread; each point of Magnitude provides the equivelent of a Solar Ox-Body on the unit's Health Levels. Yes, this means breaking the unit into smaller Magnitude units provides more total health levels; the benefits of a distributed command. The downside is the multiple commanders are unlikely to all be genius Solar generals, and thus only one unit will be a raging monster of Solar magic. Also, a single, large Unit gains bonuses when attacking smaller units, being able to leverage their sheer press of numbers against their foe.
Simple Case: Army vs Army
When two Armies, neither lead by an Exalt or other magical being, fight, it is mechanically almost identical to a normal combat. The only mechanical difference is in the advantages of Magnitude- a Unit attacking with a greater Magnitude than defending Unit adds a number of automatic successes to the attack equal to the difference of their Magnitudes.
Every 'round' of combat (the time between each Commander's actions, when their WDV refreshes) is a Scene from their own perspective- the dramatic time of mass combat is a funny thing like that. To an external observer, every tick of Mass combat takes around 10 minutes to resolve- thus, a hard fight between two massive armies can easily take an entire day, and move into the night.
However, these considerations don't mechanically matter... yet.
Slightly More Complicated Case: Army vs Lone Heroic Mortal
The core conceit of Heavenly Weapons is that Exalts can face down armies on their own, and win- but not easily. Units will do their best to take whatever advantage they can- surrounding the individual, giving them the benefit of Unexpected Attacks, and using Coordinated Attacks to drive down DV. To represent this, when a Unit attacks an individual, their attack is Spreading.
Each success rolled for the Commander's Attack, after adding the bonus successes from Magnitude, is treated as a seperate attack against their target's Parry DV or Dodge DV (their choice), with 1 success. Each of these Spreading attacks also imposes a -2 Onslaught Penalty AND a -2 Coordinated Attack Penalty to the target's DV.
This is not reciprocated- an individual who attacks a Unit still attacks with Dexterity + Melee (or whatever), against the War Defense Value of the unit. Their attack is not inherently Spreading.
The Bloody Wolf Gang has ambushed Jade Swallow, a wandering swordsman. They have a Magnitude of 1, an attack pool of 5 (Wits + War + Training), and a WDV of 3. Jade Swallow functionally has a Magnitude of 0, an attack pool of 8 and a PDV of 4.
Jade Swallow gets initiative, and rolls a 5 success attack, enough to deal two level of damage to the Blood Wolf Gang as a unit. They then get to attack, getting 3 successes- normally, not even enough to get through Jade Swallow's PDV. However, the attack is Spreading. It becomes three 1 success attacks, each imposing functionally a -2 penalty on Jade Swallow. The first still misses- messing with a master swordsman is hard! -but the second and third success finds Jade Swallow with a PDV of 0 from the penalties. Thus, they strike home, dealing several levels of damage back to the swordsman.
Charm Complicated Case: Army vs Exalt
Still with me? Good.
Now, bring in the Exalted.
This functionally introduces Charms as a new complexity.
Charms are typically Instant miracles- brief bursts of magical power, reshaping the world to the Exalt's desires.
However, each 'round' of action in Mass Combat lasts far longer than the brief moment of short ticks. How to reconcile these facts?
- An Exalt may use as many Charms as they want in Mass Combat time, without needing a Combo to activate them all. They must declare all the Charms they are going to use, however- and the surcharge occurs even if they don't end up using them.
- Each Charm that does not have a duration of at least One Scene increases the cost of all Charms used by 1 mote.
- Each Charm that has a duration of One Scene must be paid for, even if the effects don't come into play. The effects from such Charms last until the Exalt's next action.
- Activating a Combo counts as activating a single Charm, for purposes of counting the additional cost.
The reasoning is that to derive a meaningful impact on the comabt, the Charm must be used multiple times. Rather than try and track each of these uses individually, the surcharge is used to abstract it away.
To return to our example- change matters up a bit. Suddenly, Jade Swallow Exalted as a Dawn Caste!
His Essence bursts to 3. He instinctively picks up the Second Melee Excellency, Dipping Swallow Defense, Bulwark Stance, Fivefold Bulwark Stance, Heavenly Guardian Defense on the defense, and Hungry Tiger Technique on the offense.
Now, he attacks again. Before acting, he declares that he'll be using his Excellency, Fivefold Bulwark Stance, Heavenly Guardian Defense and Hungry Tiger Technique. Of those, only Fivefold Bulwark Stance is a scenelong- and so there is a 3m surcharge for using the Second Excellency, Heavenly Guardian Defense and Hungry Tiger Technique. However, they may be used as early and as often as desired.
Jade Swallow attacks- again, rolling 5 successes. He spends (6m + 3m surcharge) 9m to buy 3 additional successes, for a total of 8, for a net of 5 successes. He then spends (1m + 3m surcharge) 4m to use Hungry Tiger Technique, doubling that to 10 successes for purposes of determining damage- providing enough post-soak damage dice to break the unit.
Note that even though Jade Swallow did not have to use Heavenly Guardian Defense, the surcharge was applied to him. Likewise, even though the gang was broken before Jade Swallow needed to defend, he has to pay for Fivefold Bulwark Stance- however, the last, being a scenelong, doesn't cost the additional mote surcharge to use.
That's the essence of the system. What remains is re-writing the various War charms to play nice in a world without detailed Relays and Formations, to provide some teeth to several Solar War charms, and to write up example Units.