Originally, I had posted this as a proposal for a Mass Combat system. However, JB rightly pointed out the elegance and simplicity of the old Stormbringer POW save to survive mass combat and avoid unnecessary dice rolling. That is the fun of posting things like this. You get to go back and rethink and rediscover the games you love, and hear opinions from people who share that love, but see things a little differently.
I think both the system I propose and the old, elegant POW save have their places. For example, if your PCs are leading a squad sneaking into an enemy fortress, you might find my rules useful. If you are caught in the city while armies clash about you, JB's praise of the old rules makes perfect sense.
Now back to the post...
I'd like to get past combat hacks and move into the big picture. I always felt there were two gaping holes in the old Stormbringer game:
1) Lack of a squad combat system.
2) Lack of mechanics governing the struggle between Law and Chaos
Today, I'll try to figure out the first of these two, and tackle the second next time.
Mass combat was basically dismissed as for 'fighting fools' in Stormbringer, and the two methods for resolving them given below simply handwaive the outcome of the conflict, and only determine the survival of player characters.
I find neither of these options satisfying, as large battles that put the heroes in the thick of the action are a staple of the Elric books, and indeed all of Moorcock's fiction.
Instead, I would implement the simple rule hack of using unit types as characters. Simply use the stats of a member of each unit fighting as an extra character. If numbers are unequal, the greater number gets an extra attack per multiple by which they outnumber their foe. Also, cover or good terrain should also give an extra attack, serve as armor, or reduce the to hit roll or attack numbers of the enemy. Damage is recorded as normally, but when either side is reduced to zero, this simply means one member of the unit is slain or defeated, and thus Hit Points return to full to signify the next combatant stepping into the breach.
For example, if Elric is leading a band of Melniobneans against some pirates attacking Imrryr, he and the pirate leader are the main characters in the conflict, while the Melnibonean warriors and pirates are the secondary unit characters. If the pirates outnumber the Melniboneans 3 to 1, they will get 2 extra attacks. However, if they Melniboneans are on a fortified battle barge against wooden ships, the Gamelord can reduce the number of pirate attacks.
The Gamelord should decide in advance what the victory conditions are, based on the situation and stakes of the conflict. Fanatic enemies will need to be defeated to the last man, while desperate or poorly motivated troops may break ranks and flee when their numbers are reduced to half.
This simple hack can be ported to other Chaosium games. Imagine the fun of having your investigators in Call of Cthulhu accompany a squad of the 1st Bombay Grenadiers on a raid against Thuggee cultists.