From time to time, I plan to confront my group´s PC with 12 to 16 combat NPC in one fight. The three characters of my group (a Tech-Assassine, a Sister of Battle and a gunman Arbitrator) are quite good at the application of physical violence, and at least two of the players behind the three PC enjoy taking out larger groups of opponents by superior skill, planning and equipment. And I for one really enjoy having them worried about an unexpected swat of enemies descending on them (or well… would enjoy…).
To safe such events from bogging down due to rolling literal buckets of dice, I came up with little “cheat sheets” that allow me to keep the combat quick and to keep the focus on the PC, the players and the narrative – where it belongs.
This is how I do it:
First, I put down the basic stats I want my mooks to have and pick three or four talents which I want them to have. For the sake of lucidity, I don´t bother with putting down the matching Weapon Talents or levels of Sound Constitution. Same goes for armament and armour, I have a GM screen for that. Then, I get some random dice results from ROLL DICE ONLINE. Usually, I generate 10 groups of 30 results for a d100, and copy them to my cheat sheet. There, I label this 10 groups “0” to “9”, matching the results of a d10. To round things off, I generate some check boxes (with square brackets), so that I can keep track of how many “hits” an NPC has taken.
When the combat starts and it is my goon groups turn, I first decide on the action each of them takes and then only roll one lone d10. This results of this die tells me which of the result groups from my cheat sheet I will refer to for getting some actual results for each action for this turn. Each result is applied, one after the other, and crossed out after it has been used. The next turn, I will roll again to see from which group the results are taken this time. The same I do when it comes to Dodge or Parry rolls: I just determine the group once per round and use the results I get from there till the end of the round. If a mook gets hit and suffers more than one or two points of damage, I cross out a “hit box”. If two or three hit boxes are crossed out, the mook is “neutralized” (either dead, k.o.; or whimpering while slowly fading away due to a grievous injury).
The whole procedure is random enough to be acceptable (at least, for me), keeps me from knowing the results up front (really, I am not focused enough to have an eye on ten possible outcomes. Not while GM-ing my group) and as an additional bonus, I do not even need to pretend to roll dice *IF* I decide to simply fudge some of the dice result (for the better or the worse of the PC). If I need a d10 instead of a d100, I can still use the same list by using the second digit of the result (0 to 9).
Do you like the idea? Here is pre-made cheat sheet for you, containing stats for low-level enforcers or mercs, right out of my dropbox.