De Bellis Antiquitatis Chaoticus

By Chris Cluckey
(a.k.a. CrashDoggy)

> Rules Variants > Resources > Fanaticus


"Chaoticus" requires the use of DBA or HOTTs and is primarily intended for games of two armies, each of one single command of twelve elements (DBA) or twenty-four points (HOTTs). Provisions in these rules for Big Battles are marked with an asterisk (*). In this version of the game, instead of the normal alternating move-fire-melee per bound sequence, the game consists of alternating bounds in which both players use Pips to move their elements and engage in shooting and melee, in any order they see fit - within the few constrictions of the rules. Please see the Developer's Notes at the end of this document for the inspiration for this variant. In this Version 2.0 I have pushed the mechanic to its perhaps illogical end and abandoned the idea of reference to a time-frame entirely. This version is simpler than my first attempt and keeps both players (sides) actively involved throughout the game. It also allows for those important Pip-rolls of six in HOTTs!

Sequence of Play 

The mechanical sequence of move-fire-melee is abandoned. Instead, the players set up as per DBA or HOTTs, determining the attacker and defender and deploying armies. The appropriate player(s) takes the first bound and rolls a D6 for Pips, then the player(s) of the opposing side alternate bounds. These alternating bounds continue until one side has met the victory conditions and the game is ended.

 The key element in this variant is the way Pips are used. All normal DBA or HOTTs rules for Pip expenditure apply, but Pips are required to engage in combat as well. Players may move elements, shoot and melee in any order they choose as long as they can pay for it! Elements are marked each time they act, and each action they wish to repeat costs an additional, cumulative Pip. Players are allowed to "buy back" the markers by expending Pips during their bounds as tactical moves. 

As elements use Pips to act (Move, Shoot and use Magic, Melee, Buy Back Markers or Morale Points) it is important that the elements are marked or noted in such a way that the players recognize those elements that have acted during the bound - and how many times (Note: I use the little 6mm dice by Chessex available in bulk and in several colors). I realize that "markers" do not reflect the "record-less" spirit of DBx. I tried other ways to capture the increased Pip-drain of repeated actions but all of them contributed to either too-random results or "Super-elements". 

Two consecutive Pip-rolls of the same number by the same player (*or command) immediately causes all markers to be removed from the table. Markers remain in play from one Bound to the next unless the above occurs! This mechanism keeps the game flowing, and helps to compensate for unbalanced Pips. Note: During play-testing over ten games, this occurred an average of three times per game. Remember, the basic premise of this variant maintains that actions can occur in any order the player wishes. Pips and his/her opponent will conspire to ensure this rarely happens!


The Pip Structure for DBA/HOTTs is used per the latest version of the rules. 

All existing rules remain as written except where contradicted by any of the rules contained in this Variant. 

A player is not required to use every Pip rolled each Bound. 

Pips may be used for any action within the parameters of these rules in any order or sequence. In other words, Pips willing, an element might possibly Shoot, Move and then Melee in the same Bound before any other element was able to take an action! 


+1 Pip for each additional move, beyond the second or subsequent moves allowed by the rules, by a single element or group that bound. These costs are cumulative; a second move costs +1 Pip, the third move costs +2 Pips, etc. Each element must be marked (or a roster kept) each time it moves in a Bound. A green die is ideal (or be creative - cotton placed behind the element to represent dust!); one for each time the element moves. 

Groups expend Pips at the rate of the most Pip-costly element in the group. As an example, a Group of five elements wishes to make a Group Move. This Group has two elements that have not moved in the current Bound, two elements that joined this Group in a previous Bound by moving once (as a group, so spending one Pip) and one element that moved twice (costing one Pip for the first move and one Pip +1 for the second for a total of three Pips). This Group of five elements will count as moving for a third time - spending one Pip +2, or three Pips, to move as a Group. The player has spent a total of seven Pips over two Bounds moving these five elements. 

Pip additions or subtractions per the current rules are always in effect, for every move. 

Artillery may not move more than once per Bound, and cannot move if it has a marker denoting it moved previously (so buy the marker back!). 

Outcome moves (moves caused by Shooting or Melee, including Pursuits) do not cost any Pips and are taken immediately upon receiving the combat result. 

Upon being legally contacted on its flank or rear, and without having an enemy element already in legal front-edge contact, even if during an outcome move, the element contacted immediately (without the use of Pips) turns to face the attacker. See Melee section for further rules involving this situation. 

Markers may be removed at any time during the owner's bound by expending one Pip for each marker removed (That extra Pip is never really "extra" now!).


Shooting is an action that requires Pip expenditure. Each element controlled by the player in the current Bound that Shoots spends one Pip. There is no Group-Shooting and opposing elements do not Shoot unless shot at. An element may have other elements supporting its Shooting in accordance with the existing rules. These supporting elements do not require any Pip expenditure; however, all of the elements involved in the Shooting action are considered to have Shot this Bound and are marked accordingly. Each element must be marked (or a roster kept) each time it Shoots in a Bound. A blue die is ideal; one for each time the element Shoots. In addition, any enemy element that must return Shooting, per the existing rules, does so without Pip expenditure, but is also considered to have Shot this Bound and is marked accordingly each time it returns Shooting. 

Elements may Shoot more than once in a Bound for the cost of +1 Pip per additional Shooting (marker). These costs are cumulative; a second shooting costs +1 Pip, the third shooting costs +2 Pips, etc. Each element must be marked, as previously noted (or a roster kept), each time it shoots. 


Melee is an action that requires Pip expenditure. Each element controlled by the player in the current Bound that Melees expends one Pip. There is no Group-Melee. Each time a Melee occurs, the situation, pertaining to supports and overlaps, is determined individually and at the instant the Melee occurs. Both elements, friendly and enemy (the enemy element expends no Pips), in legal front-edge contact and involved in the Melee are considered to have Melee-ed this Bound and are marked accordingly. A red die is ideal, one for every time the element Melees. Any element acting as an overlap or flank/rear contact lends tactical support but is not marked as having Melee-ed (Note: this is different than the procedure used for Shooting combats). 

Elements may Melee more than once in a Bound for the cost of +1 Pips per additional Melee (marker). These costs are cumulative; a second Melee costs +1 Pip, the third Melee costs +2 Pips, etc. Each element must be marked, as previously noted (or a roster kept), each time it Melees. 

An element that is contacted legally to its front and also on its flank or rear edge must be Melee-ed immediately without the expenditure of any Pips, regardless of the marker status of any of the involved elements. Any time this situation occurs, the Melee must be immediately rolled and outcome moves taken.

Special Event (See Movement - Flank or Rear Contact: Upon being legally contacted on its flank or rear, and without having an enemy element already in legal front-edge contact, the element contacted immediately - without the use of Pips - turns to face the attacker). An element that causes an enemy element to turn to face it at any time during the Bound may (owner's choice) immediately Melee that element without expending any Pips. This "free Melee" may occur only following the described move to contact that expends Pips (NOT after outcome moves). If a pursuing element should encounter another enemy element and make contact in the described manner, the element contacted shall turn to face but another "free Melee" is not granted.

Optional Rule - Any impetuous element or group of such elements (including those elements considered impetuous because they will be in contact with an element of a demoralized command) that spends one or more Pips to move into legal front-, side- or flank-edge contact of an opposing element may immediately Melee said element without the expenditure of any Pips, regardless of the marker status of any of the involved elements. Any time this situation occurs, the Melee must be immediately rolled and outcome moves taken. (So move your impetuous elements into contact as groups, otherwise they will Melee piecemeal!) I really like this rule but it is un-nerving! 


Two Pips may be expended to add one Morale Point to the army's (*or command's) current Morale Record total (See Morale Record rules below). No more than two Morale Points may be added per Bound and the Army's (*or command's) current Morale Record total may never exceed the original total. 

* Pips belonging to a Command may only be used to bolster their own Morale, except for the C-in-C's Command, who may spend Pips to add to any Command's Morale Point total that has an element within the 1,200-pace command radius. Each command is limited to receiving two Morale Points per Bound, regardless of their origin. 

Magic (HOTTs-specific) 

Appropriate elements may use Magic more than once in a Bound for the cost of +1 Pips per additional use. These costs are cumulative, and are applied even if only aiding another Bespeller; a second Magic attack costs +1 Pip, the third attack costs +2 Pips, etc. Each element must be marked (or a roster kept) each time it uses Magic. A white die (or black if you are aligned with Evil!) is ideal; one for each time the element uses Magic. Any aiding Bespeller uses extra Pips as per the HOTTs rules and is marked accordingly. Any opposing Bespeller required to "return fire" does so without expending Pips but is marked as having used Magic.

The Morale Record 

Each army starts the game with twelve Morale Points. Note this on a piece of paper or by displaying the 12 on a twelve-sided die. Add or subtract - as indicated - the following from the Morale Record: 

-1 For every friendly element in the army (*or command) that receives a recoil or flee combat result except those of light horse, psiloi, sneakers, lurkers, or flyers. 
-2 For every friendly element in the army (*or command) eliminated except scythed chariots, heroes or magicians (see below). 
-2 *For every friendly command that is demoralized; this is applied to each command's Morale Point total. 
-3 For the loss of the army's camp or BUA; this is applied to each command's Morale Point total. 
-4 For every friendly hero or magician element in the army (*or command) that is eliminated or ensorcelled. 
-4 *For loss of a general that is not the C-in-C (that command only). 
-6 For loss of the general (*C-in-C; this is applied to each command's Morale Point total). 
+1 For every 2 Pips expended to purchase a morale point. 
+1 For every replaced horde element in the army (*or command) (HOTTs only). 
+3 For the recapture from the enemy of the army's camp or BUA; this is applied to each command's Morale Point total. 
+4 For every friendly hero or magician element in the army (*or command) that is desorcelled.

Winning the Battle 

Morale losses are immediate. When the Morale Record reaches 0, or a HOTTs army has lost its Stronghold, the army is immediately broken and has lost the game. 

*Big Battles 

The Sequence of Play is identical, all the Commands of a friendly side rolling Pips as per the Big Battle variants in the current rules. The commands may use their Pips in any order or sequence during the Bound. 

Commands are constructed as per the standard DBA/HOTTs rules. 

Each command's Morale Point Pool is determined by assigning: 

  • DBA - one Morale Point per element in the command. 
  • HOTTs - one Morale Point per two Army Points in the command. 

Example: a DBA command with six elements will receive six Morale Points; a HOTTs command with four elements consisting of three blades and a Hero at ten Army Points receives five Morale Points. (Note: Hordes have "brittle morale" - but are replaceable - in HOTTs, and are less brittle in DBA where they do not recoil. Psiloi can contribute to a command's resiliency since their recoils and flees do not cost Morale Points.) 

Morale losses are immediate. When the Morale Record hits 0, the command is demoralized. Once a command is demoralized, it remains so for the rest of the game. 

The Effects of Demoralization 

Heroes and Paladins are unaffected by the effects of demoralization. They remain subject to normal command and PIP requirements.

Each tactical move by a demoralized command can only be used to do one of the following:

  •  To move a single element. 
  • To hold a single element in place, turning it 180 degrees if desired. 
  • To hold a group in place without turning. No other group moves are permitted. 
  • In each of their side's bounds, all elements of a demoralized command that are not moved, held, or are in close combat, immediately flee directly towards the nearest point on the army's base edge without first recoiling, but making an initial turn if necessary. This is repeated at the start of each subsequent friendly Bound, each element not held, moved or in close combat fleeing whether or not it fled before. 

Demoralized elements deduct -2 in all types of combat. 

Gods, dragons and lurkers from demoralized commands that are currently off the battlefield count as lost even if they have not yet been deployed. They cannot be re-deployed. 

Destroyed hordes from demoralized commands cannot be replaced (HOTTs obviously). 

If enemy are in close combat with elements of a demoralized command, the normal pursuit following Melee rules are extended to apply to all types of un-demoralized element including supporting elements, but excluding artillery or war wagons. 

Winning and Losing A Battle 

A side is defeated and must immediately flee off the battlefield if, at the end of any bound, any of the following apply:

  • It has lost its commander-in-chief, and has more demoralized commands than the other side. 
  • All of its commands are demoralized. 
  • It has lost its stronghold.

If both sides somehow manage to have all their commands become demoralized at the exact same moment, victory goes to the first side to eliminate an enemy element.

"Developer's" Notes 

I developed this variant due to my intoxication with the Designer's Notes and Theory written by Bob Jones for his game, Piquet. I invite you to read Mr. Jones' Notes; it may clarify my intentions for Chaoticus. After playing Piquet, I realized that I preferred the mechanics of the DBx series of rules. Reducing the number of playing-aids required by Piquet, such as cards, different dice and pre-battle paperwork, was a secondary goal. So, this second version of Chaoticus is my attempt to blend the mindset of the battlefield as a "dangerous, confusing, and swirling environment; unpredictable and surprising" with the elegant Command Pip and rock/paper/scissors format of the DBx system. 

The basis of Chaoticus is DBA or HOTTs (take your pick!). As my intention was never to "fix" either game, I didn't feel the need to change the basic rules/mechanics. To create this variant I took inspiration from Piquet and adapted the Morale Record from Chipco's Age of Gunpowder. I also had play-test feedback from Jaye Wiley and Jeff Bolton. Though they contributed ideas (some knowingly!), none of the aforementioned should be held responsible for this product. 

More "competitive" gamers (no negative assertions here!) may have the same criticisms of Chaoticus they have for Piquet. Though this streamlined version of Chaoticus effectively keeps all players actively involved in the game, the seemingly random restrictions and abilities of elements may truly irk some gamers. On the other hand, the very real feeling of "anything might happen next, what do I do?" contributes to some very exciting games. 

The Morale Record, along with the "buying back" of Markers, creates the feeling of the commander actually committing resources to bolster the resolve of the army. It also "simulates" (abstractly!) attritional aspects of missile-combat on an army-level scale. Those recoils caused by Shooting now have a concrete effect on the stamina of the army, and if not addressed by the commander, will contribute to its collapse. 

I make no claim that Chaoticus is "more realistic" or historical than DBA or HOTTs (can HOTTs be more or less "realistic"?) It is just more emotional. Okay, and sometimes more aggravating. 

And since I am Republican Roman at heart, I use the Morale Record to represent the effects of the three-line legion, particularly in the Big Battle format. Use the following rule with this variant and lead your legions to victory (just watch your flanks!): 

Three Line Legion Rules

  • Blade elements must be designated as Hastati or Princeps and Spear elements as Triarii.
  • Hastati may recoil through Princeps, and Princeps through Triarii one time each per element if lines are aligned in edge contact per the usual support rules and facing in the same direction. This recoil is not charged against Morale. Mark your elements accordingly (Note: If you don't want to mark the elements then allow them all to recoil through each other without Morale penalty). 
  • Roman Blade and Spear may freely interpenetrate if facing in exactly the same or the opposite direction for regular pip costs as single-element or group moves.

Concluding Note

Please play a few games and provide some insight. Contact Chris "Crashdoggy" Cluckey.

Fanatici Feedback 


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Last Updated: 24 August 2005

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