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Variant Rules

DBA with Magic

By Mike Stelzer

Introductory Note

As part of a discussion on the Forum it came up about using a modified DBA system for Fantasy Battles. A couple of years ago I was running a RPG campaign that had the heroes working as mercenaries to spy for their king, this lead to the need for a combat system that was simple and quick so that the battles didn't slow play greatly( they were RPGers and not Historical Gamers). So DBA came to mind as well as HOTT, but HOTT didn't fit my campaign system well and I wanted to do something more generic for the magic system. What I came up with is given below.

A couple of problems that I had, first since all my armies were GM set I had no need for army points or generated lists. I started with DBA 12 element battles at first and ended with one battle of 24 per side. So the suggested points given below are just that let me know how they work. The Hyborian lists on the Resource Page were designed before I did these, but are highly useable with them.

Second, since I was the only historical gamer playing there maybe little points that I failed to see. Let me know as I'm hoping to use them again soon, would like the fine-tuning that more play would create.

And lastly they were written up using version 1.0 and some of the 1.1 changes were done, will see about getting them to 1.22 or 2.0 as time permits. So read on and I hope they provide a source of fun for a few.

Magical Troop Types

Mages are a new element and come in three types:

  • Journeymen are low to mid-level magic users.
  • Masters are mid to high-level magic users.
  • Arch mages are very high-level magic users (these unbalanced the game and recommend they not be used).
Type Range As Fight As Move As Combat Assist Factor (CAF)
Journeymen 200 Ps Ps +1
Masters 500 LH LH +2
Archmages 1000 Sp Flyers +3

Mages may assist in attacks without being in contact up to ranges given, unless in contact themselves. If contact is front to front then they fight as normal. if they are part of an overlap or a flank attack the CaF must go toward that attack.

On flee results they are placed back the 600p distance without the change of facing, they have flown, teleported, etc. to get away.

Masters and Archmages may attack over top of they own units without being in contact to give support. No mage lending support in an attack is destroyed on a losing attack, only those units in contact with the enemy's front are. Masters and Archmages are allowed to teleport up to 1200p once per game.


Clerics are a new element and also come in two types:

  • Priests are low to mid-level clerical spell casters
  • Prelates are mid to high-level clerical spell casters (never used any higher worked out better)
Type Range As Fight As Move As Combat Assist Factor (CAF)
Priests Contact Sp Ps +1
Prelates Bw Bd Ax +2

Priests in rear contact with a friendly unit add a +1 to any attack roll. They are not destroyed on a losing roll, only the unit that was in direct contact with the enemy is.

Prelates may give a +2 to any one attack that they are behind and in range of, facing does not matter.

Clerical units stop the follow up of Kn and Wb units.

Prelates once per game may resurrect a destroyed unit. The unit reappears in contact with the Prelate unit and may move and fight normally the next bound. They may not resurrect unique or Generals units. Evil armies these units will be undead, while in good armies they will be normal.

(Unique units are those that are considered monster or magical creatures, easy definition is any non-DBA units.)

Heroes and Paladins

Heroes and Paladins are special types that inspire others to fight bravely.

Heroes are treated like Generals in all ways except that their destruction does not end a game and they have no command radius as they inspire only those fighting with them(unless they are the general if Hero only). They are a +1 unit that is like any other of that type, if the Hero unit is killed then it counts a two destroyed units, i.e. a Heroic Kn is destroyed by a Dragon then it counts a Kn and a Hero destroyed.

  • Heroes are +1.
  • Heroic Generals are +2 but count as three destroyed units if they lose.
  • Paladins are +2 and may never be a general, counts as two loses when killed.

Integrating DBA and HOTT

All regular units from DBA are used as per their rules.

Unique creatures and units from HOTT are also used at the same values given in HOTT. Those that are represented by DBA units are not, i.e. shooters are replaced by Bw units. Hordes are treated as a regular unit, no coming back from destruction.

The only changes to units are given below:

Elephants, Mammoths and elephant type animals are all treated and El from DBA. Elephants don't pursue, behemoths do.

Humanoid type Behemoths cost an extra point and can act as Art. (Boulder throwing giants). Have the range of attack but retain their combat factors.

Sneakers may use the HOTT attack factors once per game to assassinate an unit, this includes all normal units and Heroes, Clerics and Mage units, but not Unique and magical units. The sneaker must move into contact with the unit and may ignore ZOC to do so, but may not have been in contact with another unit before this. No frontage changes are made, but attack treated as if front to front and no overlaps count, The HOTT factors are used. If the sneaker wins the mage, cleric, or hero is killed. Clerics and Mages are destroyed and removed from play. Heroes and Generals are killed and the unit they were with now is played as a normal unit of that type. Normal units are destroyed if they lose, all leaders killed and unit dispersed. After this attack sneakers are treated as normal Ps or destroyed as the losers.

Strongholds are treated as DBA camps, unless in campaign where they are the main base of operations and treated as a HOTT stronghold when attacked.

Winning and Losing

At the end of any bound, the first side that meets any of these criteria loses the battle:

  • 1/3 of units lost counting heroes as a separate unit.
  • General, camp or stronghold lost and more units that foe lost.
  • God destroyed and more units lost.

Army make up

This is the one area I am open to suggestions as I was using this in a set campaign and it wasn't a problem. The best idea I could come up with is to use the combat factors (highest the unit has) and buy what they wanted up to a given point. I used 34 to 48 points to keep it on a 2x2 table, was planning on larger battles when the campaign was ended on a great move by the players, it shifted the campaign to another area. This is what I added for the new elements:

Journeymen 4
Masters 6
Heroes +1
Priest 4
Prelate 6
Sneakers 5
Humanoid Behemoths +1
All others As per combat factors.

Concluding Note

Let me know what you think and any changes that may help, remember that this is to be in the same vein as DBA and to generically represent fantasy combat with battles that last 45 to 60 minutes. And can be used in almost any campaign setting for RPGs.

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Last Updated: June 14, 2000

Thanks to Mike Stelzer for submitting this variant rule. Comments, suggestions and gamer feedback are welcome. Send input to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.