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Author Topic: [FtA] A Quick Combat  (Read 650 times)

Zachary The First

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[FtA] A Quick Combat
« on: August 04, 2007, 10:54:47 pm »
Thought I'd repost this here.  I don't have a full AP recap, but I did run a quick combat session tonight using Pundit's Forward...to Adventure!, and I thought some folks might be interested in it:

I was able to run just a real quick trial combat session tonight between 3 PCs and 7 goblins and a goblin subchief.  A few quick notes:

-Combat was, after the first round, not blazingly quick, but not as slow as I had feared.

-You really need to work together to defend your casters in this game!  The mage had his spell disrupted via an attack before he could cast, due to his player's complete ignoring of any sort of positioning tactics.

-It was very cool to divvy up damage after the melee portion of combat.  Being able as a GM to selectively apply, using common sense or for dramatic effect (or both) the damage results of a melee round to a side did help in the "mop up" phase--the players made attacks, but it wasn't the dull, endless paring down of a defeated enemy or just totally hand-wavey, either.  

-Stunts worked out pretty well, much smoother than I expected first time out.  1 player was able to Stunt using his acrobatics to get to the subchief and cut him down pretty early on in the going.  Our rogue used a Performance Stunt to fake a couple of the goblins into believing they were about to be cutoff by a relief party "coming around the bend".  Afterward, several of the players commented on other stunts they might use next time around, as well as mention some....interesting...ideas for using them. :)

-Groups of enemies are dangerous!  Those melee result rolls mean that even a large group of relatively weak enemies can gang up to put the hurt on a party.

-One of the goblins dropped (using the tables in the back) a Luck Cloak, allowing the player to re-roll one roll per session.  As a GM, I really liked the tables, and think this is the sort of game that would do well with an expansion on those.

-The players playing the caster commented on how much can go wrong playing a mage.  He's the sort who usually plays magic-users, and I don't think he liked all the things that could go wrong when casting or trying to cast (though he did like the magic items FtA had).

I asked my players what they liked best, and two said the Stunting rules, one said it was between the way "combat and damage was handled" and the random tables in the book.  I asked them what they liked least; one didn't answer, one said he was confused by how missile attacks fit in, and one said he'd like more players options during chargen.

All in all, not bad at all.  Nothing earth-shatteringly new, but it doesn't claim to be.  It suffers a bit in places from lack of a streamlined layout or better examples, but so far, I've found more to like than not.  My players want to run a bit more if we get the chance tomorrow--so chances are I'll report back then.
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Skyrock

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[FtA] A Quick Combat
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2007, 07:49:25 am »
Ah, that sounds cool... And from capsule reading (without any AP yet) I'd agree that stunts are a.) an important tactical resource and b.) a fun part of the game.

Have you used the standard combat round structure, or have you used the melee/stunt swap option to make stunts more attractive?

Quote from: Zachary The First
-One of the goblins dropped (using the tables in the back) a Luck Cloak, allowing the player to re-roll one roll per session.  As a GM, I really liked the tables, and think this is the sort of game that would do well with an expansion on those.
This one seems odd to me... I'd have rolled up the treasure _first_, so that the monster in question can make use of it.

However, this might be a misreading on my part. (Or misthinking with all those NetHack references... After all, monsters could there pick up and use stuff. You haven't played a roguelike until you've encountered a humble gnome with a wand of death or a mediocre goblin with a cursed scroll of summon monsters.)
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Zachary The First

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[FtA] A Quick Combat
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2007, 09:03:43 am »
Quote from: Skyrock
Ah, that sounds cool... And from capsule reading (without any AP yet) I'd agree that stunts are a.) an important tactical resource and b.) a fun part of the game.

Have you used the standard combat round structure, or have you used the melee/stunt swap option to make stunts more attractive?

This one seems odd to me... I'd have rolled up the treasure _first_, so that the monster in question can make use of it.

However, this might be a misreading on my part. (Or misthinking with all those NetHack references... After all, monsters could there pick up and use stuff. You haven't played a roguelike until you've encountered a humble gnome with a wand of death or a mediocre goblin with a cursed scroll of summon monsters.)

We actually tried stunts before melee, which has brought them into more use, and made things more cinematic, I think.  I believe that's the way we'll go from this point on.

And yeah, to clarify, the gobbo had the Luck Cloak...it just didn't turn out to be very lucky for him that day. :p
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Zachary The First

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[FtA] A Quick Combat
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2007, 01:03:31 pm »
OK, here's a quick rundown of this morning's "hangover session" of FtA!:

We ran a second trial session of FtA.  Our combat last night had gone pretty smoothly, and with the group wanting to try some new stunts and such, it was time for another session.

Again, our characters consisted of a human warrior, an elven wizard (leaning towards the bardic path; in FtA, "wizard" is a general term for a magic-user; the players decides if the MU takes the traditional arcane or divine path, or goes further afield as a druid or rune mage, etc.), and a halfling rogue-wizard (a more instinctive, untrained, soemwhat minor magic-user, which turned out to be a really good fit for the halfling).  The three, fresh off their subdual of the "minor" gobbo threat of the previous evening, were loudly regaling the crowd at Roadbump's only inn, the Galumphing Griffon, where several of the locals were getting tired of Slyboots the Halfling's constant boasting of their great battle.

"If you lot are so mighty," growled Roan the Village Drunk/Blacksmith/Oaf/Bully, "why don't you go down to the Tomb of Rottoak?"

A hush came over the inn's crowd.  Seems the old wicked Baron Von Rottoak, dead these 50 years, had believed he COULD take it with him, and had built himself a tomb that was more of a labyrinth than anything.  Keep away graverobbers and all that.  And if a wicked, evil, likely insane noble can't build a crypt that's rumored to be both the source of wandering ghouls, a bandit hideout, and the resting place of a giant treasure hoard, who can?

Slyboots and the party quickly accepted.  After all, everyone knew the Von Rottoaks had made a ton in the gem trade over the years.  Why not check out the action and impress the townies while at it?

So Slyboots, Anders the Bold (human warrior), and Marius (our resident elf) decided to trek on down to the Tomb to see what they could find.  They ran into a bit of trouble when they disturbed a dreaded Giant Python, which they dispatched rather handily with some excellent coordination--Marius used a Light spell to blind the snake, Anders gave him a mighty stab with his Longspear, and Slyboots Stunted with his Acrobatics to get past some rocky terrain into battle in time to be surprisingly effective with his dagger. (Anders actually rolled  a critical, allowing him to roll 3d6 and add it to his total.  In the game, pure warriors crit when they roll triples of any number except one of the 3d6s).

The Giant Python was a pretty tough creature, but with three opponents working together, it went down quite quickly.

Upon reaching the clearing that housed the Tomb of Rottoak, Slyboots spotted two Orc guards outside its massive oaken doors.  Marius decided to use his Whisper spell to distract the guards, but failed his roll horribly.  He not only suffered 2 Hit Points of damage, but he had also rolled TRIPLE 1s, which in the 3d6-based game a nasty, nasty fumble, and doubled that 2 HP into 4 HP (knocking him unconscious).  Going to the charts, Marius' player now discovered the elf was struck with "nervous trembling", and had lost one point of DEX.  Yipes.  (Worst-case scenario?  Pretty much.  The severe fumble table only comes into play for really, really awful rolls like that one--I'm glad we got an example in so early, even if Marius isn't).  Pulling their senseless comrade away, the players decided to regroup, and wait until the dawn to press their attack.

The night passed without incident, and in the morning the party, including the now-shaky Marius returned to the Tomb.  There, they saw a band of 8 Orcs, including one wearing a rather impressive helm, appearing to gather up for a raiding party.  Anders confidently asserted Orcs were a cowardly, superstitious lot, and charged into the clearing, gunning right for the helmed Orc, who appeared to be a chieftain of sorts.

In one round, Anders was on the ground, unconscious.  The results of the melee were such that the Orcs, concentrating most of their attacks on a single opponent, attacked such that Anders took the brunt of the melee damage distribution.  (Again, the combat system does not reward lone wolf tactics.  At all).  Slyboots and Marius, both attempting distance attacks, were of no use.  

Marius was short on offensive power, and Slyboots was no great shakes, either.  But of all things, Slyboots used a singularly whupass stunt to get them out of the jam.  He used his only spell, Audio Illusion, and then stunted again with Bluff (beating a Difficulty Check of 20), making the sound a great band of horsemen bearing on the Orcs from the West.  The Orcs wavered, and then with Marius using his Light spell to blind and confuse several of the uncertain, they skedaddled, the Orc chieftain leaving that strange helm at the entrance to the tomb.  

Slyboots then stunted with his Climb skill, pulling himself up in a tree to pull off an otherwise impossible (but ultimately ineffectual) parting shot with his sling at the fleeing Orcs (system note:  I assigned this move at a Difficulty Check of 20, which he just met).

Marius then used one of his strange green Elven potions to revive Anders, and the group, deciding they had wasted quite enough time already, decided to try to open the great wooden doors (surprisingly sturdy and intact), and found that they swung effortlessly inward.  Meanwhile, after carefully washing it out with water from his waterskin, Slyboots tried on the dropped Orcish helm.  It was too big by half, and nearly obscured his field of vision, but Slyboots suddenly felt 3 times as aware and attuned with his surrounding world than he ever had before. (Note:  that would be a Helm of Keen Sense, right enough, with a +10 to Perception...but perhaps some other side effects as well).

That's where we ended for the evening.  Short, but sweet, and things ran very quickly.  We had some other obligations to see to, but all agreed to finish up the dungeon next session.

GM's Notes:

-I liked the damage distribution in combat very much.  It made allotting damage to account for foolhardy moves (such as Anders' charge) very easy, and brought that particular incident to a halt rather quickly.  

-I was thinking about using the optional "Goon" rules for more of a high fantasy feel.  Using the goon rules, minor opponents only roll 1d6 instead of 3d6 as part of their attack.  As you can see, a party that works together can take on larger opponents; one that does not quickly learns even minor foes can be dangerous when they are massed as a group.

-I think depending on the game you run, a GM has to be very careful with the stunts you allow.  Like a lot of stuff in FtA, its a simple idea, but a cool one. I really feel like just the idea of stunting and looking for ways to press those advantages helped my players think more outside the box of "roll, hit, roll, miss".  I like simple ideas that empower great ones.

-There is little, if anything in this game that has not been done before, but I will say FtA! does an above average job of bringing together what many people would consider "heartbreaker" and old-school elements, but puts them together in a way that seems to work out pretty well.  My players are enjoying it, and have seemed to pick it up pretty quickly.  They don't like adding in so many modifiers on some of the rolls, so I think all of them had their "oft-used" numbers written down somewhere by night's end.  My wizard is feeling a little constrained right now, but he's hanging in there, and I did mention there were some interesting magic items rumored to be in the Von Rottoak family treasury at one point...

-Adventure Points:  Called many other things in many other systems.  I haven't given 'em out yet, because I think with stunting, this game is as cinematic as I want right now.  Adventure Points can be used as bonuses on rolls, just like Action Points, Cinema Points, whatever you want to call 'em.  On the other hand, they might make some of the more near-impossible stunting possible, which might be a plus.  I honestly just don't know yet.
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Skyrock

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[FtA] A Quick Combat
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2007, 04:40:26 pm »
Quote from: Zachary The First
We actually tried stunts before melee, which has brought them into more use, and made things more cinematic, I think.  I believe that's the way we'll go from this point on.
Thanks for explaining that.
When I do the test run, I'll use the swap option probably too - simple whack & hack is something that I can do about as well in most other systems, but stunts are a really shiny piece which diserve to be more highlighted.

Quote from: Zachary The First
Marius decided to use his Whisper spell to distract the guards, but failed his roll horribly.  He not only suffered 2 Hit Points of damage, but he had also rolled TRIPLE 1s, which in the 3d6-based game a nasty, nasty fumble, and doubled that 2 HP into 4 HP (knocking him unconscious).  Going to the charts, Marius' player now discovered the elf was struck with "nervous trembling", and had lost one point of DEX.  Yipes.  (Worst-case scenario?  Pretty much.  The severe fumble table only comes into play for really, really awful rolls like that one--I'm glad we got an example in so early, even if Marius isn't).
That is a part that I liked too. It adds a scary Sword&Sorcery touch to magic without disturbing the big, more happy D&D-like picture.
Quote
Anders confidently asserted Orcs were a cowardly, superstitious lot, and charged into the clearing, gunning right for the helmed Orc, who appeared to be a chieftain of sorts.

In one round, Anders was on the ground, unconscious.  The results of the melee were such that the Orcs, concentrating most of their attacks on a single opponent, attacked such that Anders took the brunt of the melee damage distribution.  (Again, the combat system does not reward lone wolf tactics.  At all).
Actual play seems to aligns with what I've concluded from reading: Group coordination is crucial, and lone wolf charges bring only an early grave.

Quote
-I think depending on the game you run, a GM has to be very careful with the stunts you allow.
Howzat? Were there any instances where the players tried stuff that is somehow out of place (too unrealistic, too goofy, too whatever)?
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Zachary The First

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[FtA] A Quick Combat
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2007, 05:56:22 pm »
Quote from: Skyrock
Howzat? Were there any instances where the players tried stuff that is somehow out of place (too unrealistic, too goofy, too whatever)?

No, I mean, a GM sets the DCs for stunts, which in and of itself is a limiter for someone trying to use their Bluff stunt in battle to have people fool their opponent into thinking their halfling is a Troll Berserker and silliness of that sort.  My players didn't come up with anything too outlandish, and looking back, DC checks would keep that in place.  I think a GM in FtA just has to be mindful with stunts as far as what's good for the game, just like any other mechanic of this sort.  Basic-level GM stuff, but I felt it worth mentioning.  Stunting seems like it will work best with really creative players who come up with some truly unique Stunt usages to enhance combat and the game.
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Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men.