Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fighting With Saving Rolls Part 2: Low Level Character vs High MR Monsters

(Illustration by V. Shane.)

I was asked a question related to my Saving Roll based combat method at the Trollbridge about situations where low level characters face high MR monsters. Specifically, a Brion-type character from the example in my previous post and a MR 50 ogre. Brion would need to make a Level 5 Saving Roll to hit the ogre whereas the ogre would only need to make a Level 1 SR to hit him; surely Brion does not stand a chance on his own using this system. What if there were multiple characters facing that ogre? Can their effort be combined to bring the ogre down?

In my mind, Brion faces as much of a challenge facing a MR 50 ogre on his own using the standard T&T combat system as with this SR-based system.

Using the standard T&T system, Brion would get 3D+10 with his saber and personal adds compared to the ogres 6D+25. So Brion would, on average, get a combat total of 20.5 per combat turn and the ogre 45. Even with his armor and shield Brion would take about 7 hits to his CON per combat turn on average. That would make the fight last two turns.

Using the SR-based system Brion would need to make a L5SR on his CA of 14 to hit; so he would need to roll a 26 or better on 2D6 with DARO to hit the ogre. If Brion applied all of his personal adds to attacking, however, he would only need a 20. The ogre, on the other hand, would only need to make a L1SR on its CA of 38 (3/4 of MR). So the ogre would always hit Brion unless it rolled a 3 on 2D6 even if Brion applied all his personal adds to defense.

In either system, a single low level character facing any opponent as powerful as this should think twice about charging headlong into combat. It simply won't end well. There are always combat stunts you could try to pull, but these could (and should) be used in either combat system.

Of course, the other option using the standard T&T combat system is for Brion to use a dagger (or some other weapon) in his off hand instead of a shield. Using a saber and bank, for example, would increase his offensive power to 5D+13 and average CBT to 30.5. He'd still lose each combat round on average, but might last a little longer. This is an aspect of T&T combat that, while I take full advantage of, I have never really been happy with. Fighting with two weapons is just such a huge advantage that it makes no sense to do otherwise. That does not sit well.

In situations where multiple characters were facing that MR 50 ogre (or any opponent) using SR-based combat, they could combine their personal adds for defense. The ogre only gets one attack per combat turn, so if five Brion-type warriors were fighting the ogre they could combine their personal adds to subtract up to 30 from it's attack SR. That would help to even up the odds and make it much harder for the ogre to squash a "Brion" each and every combat turn. Of course, in my mind at least, a MR 50 monster should be able to squash a first level character fighting on his own without much effort. But five first level warriors working together and fighting as a team should make this more difficult. Using combined personal adds to penalize the attack SR of the opponent serves this purpose. Meanwhile, each warrior would still need to make a separate L5SR on their CA to hit the ogre. That is tough to do, certainly, but they are pretty much out of their league. But with enough warriors, someone will eventually make that roll.

Example: Fresh from his victories over the goblin horde, Brion hears of a ferocious ogre terrorizing a village. Brion learns that the ogre lives in a nearby swamp. Knowing that such a beast will be tough to bring down, Brion enlists the aid of four other warriors. Well armed and full of confidence, the band heads into the swamp and soon find themselves facing the ogre. The hideous beast is 12' tall and easily weighs 500 pounds. It roars and charges the warriors as they scramble to form a shield wall.

Each warrior is a 1st level Warrior with a Combat Ability of 14, a Constitution of 12, and 6 Personal Adds. Each is equipped with a spear (3D+2), soft leather armor, and a target shield (takes 9x2 hits).

The ogre has a MR of 50, a CA of 38, does 6D+25 in damage, but has no armor.

The warriors form up and lock their shields together to fight defensively. The ogre crashes into the and begins to pummel the warriors with his sledgehammer-like fists. The warriors commit all of their Personal Adds to defense, hoping to ward off the ogres blows long enough for someone to get a spear into the beast's gut.

Each warrior needs to make a L5SR (Target=40) on CA14 to hit. The ogre only needs to make a L1SR (Target=20) on CA38 to hit, but at a -30 penalty. So, the warriors need to roll a 26 and the ogre a 12 on 2D6 with DARO to hit.

Turn 1: The warriors roll 8, 7, 11, 11, and 9. They all miss. The ogre rolls a 7. With the penalty he also misses.

Turn 2: The warriors roll 15, 8, 11, 8, and 6 missing. The ogre rolls an 11 missing, although one warrior gets uncomfortably close to the abyss.

Turn 3: The warriors roll 8, 9, 11, 6, and 24(!) missing (but so close!). The ogre rolls a 3 and nearly trips over his big feet.

Turn 4: The warriors roll 8, 7, 16, 7, and 7 missing. The ogre rolls a 7.

Turn 5: The warriors roll 11, 6, 8, 10, and 9 missing. The ogre rolls a 28! He slams his fist into the face of one of the warriors doing 43 points of damage! The warrior's helmet is crushed just before his skull and he drops to the ground. The ogres attack penalty is now only -24; he only needs to roll a 6 or better to hit.

Turn 6: The warriors roll 7, 3, 12, and 4. The ogre rolls a 16! A second warrior falls after taking 43 hits. The ogres attack penalty is now down to -18 and he only needs to roll >3 to hit. Things are looking grim for the warriors!

Turn 7: The now desperate warriors switch to all out attack and throw their Personal Adds to offense (+6 to each attack SR). They roll 6, 10, and 7. Despite their best efforts they fail to land a telling blow. The ogre rolls a 9 and nonchalantly bludgeons a third warrior to death.

Brion and his last comrade decide that they have had enough and run for it! The ogre is content to let them flee. The three dead warriors will make for a filling meal.

While Brion and his comrade lost the battle with the ogre (badly) they still earned some Adventure Points from the ordeal. Each of them faced certain death and learned a thing or two. In the end Brion and the warrior earned 315 and 250 APs, respectively.

Here we can see how a single high MR monster can overwhelm a group of low level warriors. Again, this is as it should be in my opinion and can happen in either system; it's simply a matter of what is considered to be a high Monster Rating. The battle would have likely gone much differently if Brion had enlisted the aid of a Wizard as well and maybe a couple of archers. As it was the warriors were able to hold the ogre at bay while they worked as a team. While no individual could land a blow, they were able to defend each other for four combat turns. If they had been working individually and committing their Personal Adds to their attack rolls, one would have hit the ogre in Turn 3; but it certainly would not have been a fatal blow to such a tough monster. But then a warrior would have fallen each turn prior to that hit (and I would not have rolled the dice that fifth time).

If this battle would have been fought using the standard 7.5e T&T combat system it would have ended far differently:

The battle between the five warriors and the ogre is joined. The warriors get a combined attack roll of 15D+40 with their spears and Personal Adds. The ogre gets 6D+25.

Turn 1: The warriors roll a 106 with 4 spite and the ogre a 42. The ogre takes 60 hits and drops dead. It's days of terrorizing villagers are over.

The five warriors each earn 10 APs for the light stretching exercise of ogre slaying.

Well, that was easy. To present a challenge to the warriors, the ogre would need a MR of at least 140 with an attack roll of 15D+70. The warriors could then counter by drawing their banks to fight with in their off hands to bring their total attack roll to 25D+65.

It's interesting that while the MR 50 ogre is so terrifying to a single warrior that it is little more than a nuisance to five such warriors using the standard T&T combat system. The SR based system maintains that level of terror. The five warriors need to try to outmaneuver the ogre to gain an advantage rather than just standing toe-to-toe with it and trading blows. Perhaps they could attempt to trip the beast or send one warrior off to flank the ogre and stab it in the back while the rest try to hold its attention. All of these stunts can be handled with additional Saving Rolls and additional risk for failure; of course the reward is victory against long odds. There are also ways to prepare before battle; setting an ambush, for example, or laying traps. Increasing the likelihood of losing a battle (and your characters) should make for more interesting and fun situations.

So the final point of clarification for the SR-based combat system is this: Personal Adds used for defense can be combined with those of other characters facing the same adversary. Personal adds used for offense cannot be combined.

1 comment:

  1. A good, solid write-up there Dan. :0).

    I was only musing over the virtual necessity to duel-wield in T&T last night and, ways around it.

    My current thoughts are that to encourage players (particularly) solitaire ones to do otherwise would require the introduction of some mechanical reward. I'm still playing with the idea but should hopefully have something more tangible to post up later.

    At any rate, good stuff! :0).