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Author Topic: Ok, We Need A Plan...[highly tactical gaming]  (Read 627 times)

Abyssal Maw

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Ok, We Need A Plan...[highly tactical gaming]
« on: December 29, 2006, 12:04:18 pm »
One of my absolute favorite parts of any roleplaying game is the part where everyone stops and says "ok, we need a plan.. " and then the players brainstorm a plan together. My second favorite part is when they execute it and it inevitably changes just a bit.

Usually this happens just before a battle.. (well in my highly tactical world, anyhow). But perhaps it happens in other situations: infiltrations or complex negotiations. The players tend to break off and talk amongst themselves, only bothering the GM to clarify any details "so you say there's a pool of acid in the north corner of the room? And the creature looked humanoid?..."

Meanwhile they're going over spell lists, and talking about combinations. "Ok, I can bull rush. Rogue gets on the far side.. maybe he can get a free sneak attack as ai push him past, and if we'relucky, he goes right into the acid pool. Wizard? You said you would go in first, invisibly and set us up the bomb.  Can we get a resist energy up before you go? Who has a potion of bulls strength?..."

And then first contact, and then the plan adapts. I get to see people spontaneously taking on positions of leadership, I see teamwork in action. I see camaraderie and loyalty and heroism.

It's one of my favorite parts of the game.
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David R

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Ok, We Need A Plan...[highly tactical gaming]
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2007, 08:13:52 am »
It's a good part of the game. But for many years now, I haven't exactly given the players time to plan for most of the major battles. I mean, sure they have brief in game discussions about a rough idea as to what to do, but mostly it happens real quick.

Sometimes they have a little more breathing space to figure out a cunning plan - maybe their going to ambush someone, or break into some place etc - but mostly it happens like the scene in LA Confidential when the two cops get ambushed in the house. A little time to set up, then BANG :D

There have been many defend this place type situations  - the latest example being the season finale of my Hunter campaign, where like the cops in Precinct 13 (Carpenter version) the group found themselves having to defend an understaffed police precinct from a(in this case) horde of zombie-like creatures :eek:  - where they get a little more time to plan, I like these "Ok We Need A Plan" situations, but in my campaigns they dont get much time, to plan...I'm a bad GM :D

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Kyle Aaron

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Ok, We Need A Plan...[highly tactical gaming]
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2007, 08:21:06 am »
I love that, too, unfortunately the people I can play with at the moment aren't that into it, they prefer all that character personality stuff :(

I mean, I like that, too, but... wouldn't mind a firefight from time to time!
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Tyberious Funk

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Ok, We Need A Plan...[highly tactical gaming]
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2007, 10:18:43 pm »
Quote from: JimBobOz
I love that, too, unfortunately the people I can play with at the moment aren't that into it, they prefer all that character personality stuff :(


*shrug*

I like tactics quite a lot.  But as we've discussed before, I came from a D&D group that took it to extremes.  They used to have a whiteboard to keep track of all the spells and various buffs on each character, with the effect and duration tracked every round.  Preparing for a battle against powerful foes could take hours.  The GM would then, invariably, use meta-game knowledge to screw everyone over.  

After a while, I gave up and my idea of tactics devolved into "charge" or "run".

Quote

I mean, I like that, too, but... wouldn't mind a firefight from time to time!


Sure.  But system can be an important determinant.  Present the group with a system where combat, even between two experienced swordsmen, can be determined by a single (un)lucky blow, and it's not surprising that the players become gunshy.  

Also, you have a penchant for emphasizing some of the moral dilemmas to conflict.  Don't get me wrong, that can be fun... but it makes players think twice about using swords to solve problems.  I keep telling you... More goblins.  More kobolds.  More orcs.  THEN you'll see some fights :)
 

Kyle Aaron

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Ok, We Need A Plan...[highly tactical gaming]
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2007, 10:49:32 pm »
Wel, I should be clear. When I said, "tactics," I meant like, "you go outflank this guy while I lay down covering fire, and Joe gets the rocket launcher ready." I don't mean the game mechanics stuff, which is dull as dishwater.

Combat systems are a difficult one. Most tend to the One Lucky Blow Decides All that you described, or else Hit Point Attrition. There don't seem to be many which reward thought and planning much. So that's an unresolved thing for me.

As for moral dilemmas, you guys saw them even when they weren't there. "We are sworn to defend the Eorl, but we are also sworn to his daughter, and she is asking us to do something the Eorl would dislike," okay, that's a moral dilemma. But, "here's a giant with a human face sleeping, and there's piles of silver and gold behind him." That's not a moral dilemma. :D

In this respect, what I find is that for players who identify strongly with their characters, they play their characters as more than what's on the character sheet. For example, one of our players played his guy as avoiding fights, and avoiding being lethal when there was a fight. But nothing on his character sheet said he had to do that; his character's aspects didn't mention being pacifist, or violent, or anything. But to him his character was more than just what was written down, so that's the way he played him. To butcher sleeping guys, even sleeping giants, went against his idea of his character, so he wouldn't do it.

That's nothing in the rules or the game world - the game world would have praised slaying a giant. You'd have been great heroes. That was about your own ideas of your characters. I think that's in the hands of the players.

If payers have a mind for the butchery, then it'll happen whatever the game world and character sheets say. If the players don't, then it won't happen. For example, there was a certain persistent enemy who kept attacking your character... but you kept sparing him. Were you just keeping him around for practice? :p
Rules for effective DMing:
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3. I master the game, the game does not master me.
4. Momentum over perfection.
5. The game must go on!
https://vikinghatgm.blogspot.com

Abyssal Maw

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Ok, We Need A Plan...[highly tactical gaming]
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2007, 10:55:17 am »
It comes down to this:

I want all the possibilities open.

I don't ever want the players to avoid battle if they want to be in battle. So if the game system has it set up so that players will likely have their character seriously be degraded or eliminated in any combat- then they avoid battle just as a consequence of play. And that sucks.

I love mayhem and tactical situations. Thats where the excitement is. So I want combats to be survivable and fun.

But in the event that the players don't want to be in combat, if they want to play skulkers or peaceful guys or whatever..  they can still avoid it.

I once playtested a FUDGE adventure where you play all of these animal characters, and your'e supposed to be avoiding combat of course (because only munchkins like that sort of thing, right?) so you have lousy combat stats and not much damage threshhold. So all combats are 'deadly and gritty' and all of those other things RPG-jackasses natter on about.

And then, near the end of the adventure, you still have to cross some kind of bridge where you get attacked near the end. There's no other way through it.

So we try to sneak by it or fly by it- my character was an Owl.. and we still get attacked. And my character pretty much dies, but they FUDGE'd me back to life or something after the fact. Hoho.

And that was lame.

If we had just had hit points or something, we could have probably come up with a plan that would have gotten us through that last bit relatively unscathed- sharing the damage out, maximizing our opportunities through tactics, and minimizing risk through planning. (Min-Maxing! yeah!)

Instead, just one unlucky roll and your guy dies. Whee.
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