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Thread: Mass Combat

  1. #31
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    The general intention is to try to push as many non-player factors into the disposition, so that the rolls focus on the players' actions as much as possible. If the general is especially important, perhaps he could roll the army disposition using his strategy? Or, you could use his great skill as narrative justification for giving the player's side some disposition bonuses - winning the engagement roll, being better rested and better supplied than the enemy, and higher ground.
    Michael Prescott - I'm making free adventures!

  2. #32
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    What Fuseboy said. If you have a brilliant NPC general, they could lobby for a disposition bonus.

    As for the G7 sword thing, all the PCs have to take an action before they can take a second action, which means that each PC only gets a few rolls, so the G7 sword won't come up that often. That being said, there are some changes that may make it into the second draft that make using Sword... a bit less attractive =)

    And with the big spells, if you can find some way to deploy them before the battle, that might provide a nice dispo bonus. But yeah, giant spells are a bit problematic at present.
    -Mike

  3. #33
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    Well, one of the things that's fun about BW is that the GM gets to be a players as well and that there is an element of tactics in playing the various subsystems. If I can take, for example, my Sword G7 up against a mook and have that opposed test count for disposition damage... then it becomes a matter of leveraging that skills and the other players become liabilities.

    That might also be an issue with the Patrol Method, ie. each player can never get more than 1 action ahead of the others. It faces the same problem as skill challenges in D&D 4th - suddenly some of the other players participating become a liability... which is problematic to say the least. The player who isn't good at any of the skills needed for mass combat should not make his side's chances of winning smaller, he just should not contribute as much.
    Name's Alexander, nice to meet ya.

  4. #34
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    Putting the patrol method and GM agency aside for a moment, I think I have an idea for the sorcery thing.

    This is about intent, task and Testing your ability, right?

    So why not disregard the normal rules for casting Carefully and Patiently, which really are the root of the problem. Now that Sorcery is no longer tested together with Will, you can actually use Sorcery for bloody versus. However, letting the Sorcerer almost double his skill in Bloody Versus would be insane.

    If you do that, I don't think there's any need for the +1Ob, +2s rule. Sorcery is a potent open-ended skill, but it also requires investment. You must still Test for Tax, but there are no penalties for failing the roll or going below the spell obstacle - after all, you can normally add extra dice to compensate for just that.

    Under these rules, I would give spells that are very well suited for mass battle +1D advantage, such as Rain of Fire, Storm of Lightning and Billous Smoke... those are battle spells after all. There more opponents, the more effective they are.

    Faith might merit similar treatment. However, instead of looking at specific prayer obstacles, looks at whether the roll succeeds or fails. After all, when Faith works, it works perfect. When Faith fails, there are sometimes extra consequences. If you win the opposed roll, you damage the opposition, secure your side an advantage or... whatever. If your roll fails, the prayer does nothing and there may be divine censure.

    They will still be potent, but nowhere near as insane as casting... say White Fire with +4D from casting it Carefully. That would win any opposed test, hands down.
    Name's Alexander, nice to meet ya.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suicide King View Post
    The player who isn't good at any of the skills needed for mass combat should not make his side's chances of winning smaller, he just should not contribute as much.
    One thing that tempts me is to consider the players' actions as potentially happening in parallel, not necessarily one after the other. (That's okay if the players are busily at work in the seething masses, less so if their actions are dependent on one another or highly visible, like slaying Balrogs, or attacking through breaches opened up by another players.)

    But yes, that's a problem with the patrol method; it's particularly apparent in MG when you're going up against a snake with Nature 7, and the four-mouse patrol has a couple of green recruits with really low exponents. "Aw man, can't Nettles sit this one out, he's going to get us killed." This isn't true in the same way if all four mice are acting in parallel. Nettles gives the snake an extra attack, in effect.

    To get rid of this problem, the simplest way would be to get rid of the rock-paper-scissors minigame, sadly. Reformulate the actions so that they're more about making adjustments to disposition, but they're essentially independent of what the enemy is doing.
    Michael Prescott - I'm making free adventures!

  6. #36
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    Or... perhaps allow a player to not have to script and just provide help where the fiction/framing allows him to? My court advisor could be a the Commander's side, helping with his Nobles-Wise by saying "Let Aldus lead the assault my lord, he won three tournaments last year and will crush this Orc".
    Name's Alexander, nice to meet ya.

  7. #37
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    Don't cut out the weaker or less-experienced characters. 1) it's a game, so everyone should get a turn 2) forcing a weaker character into the spotlight has huge potential pay off in BW.

    To wit: the inexperienced character can gain advancements in necessary skills, but also the more experienced characters can help and gain advancements for themselves.

    And, these odd characters can break up predictable behavior. In a recent game, Thor thought he had our number. He thought he knew what our action would be for a character that typically favors defend, because he is very weak on the attack. Well, we forced that character to attack and thus beat Thor's feint—and subsequently won the conflict.
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  8. #38
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    Here is a situation and it's not really hypothetical, I've seen it in a few games.
    A player does not have any of the skills for the conflict, so the only interest for him in being primary for a test is a test or perhaps a bit of artha (Always in the Way, eh? eh?). Now, having none of the skills and the Patrol Method being in place, that player feels that he is sabotaging the other's or the "plot" in order to gain tests or a bit of Artha.

    If he could join in as a helper on appropriate actions, he would be cool with that. However, having to take a full action to participate, he decides to bow out of the conflict altogether.

    Is this really desirable? I've seen it happen in Mouse Guard. If participation is ALL or NOTHING then players will bow out of conflicts where they would otherwise make sense as helpers/assistants. While the rest of the table may be fine with them doing lowering their chances of success a bit, the players will self-censure themselves out of the conflict.
    Name's Alexander, nice to meet ya.

  9. #39
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    Alexander,
    Let's start another thread and talk about this.
    "Athos—Porthos, farewell till we meet again! Aramis, adieu forever!"
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  10. #40
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    Great stuff, Fuseboy! I'd like to use your Mass Combat rules for an upcoming battle, but I'd like your input on how to interpret a couple things.

    I don't know what Night Terrors are, but they sound like they're not really intelligent creatures. Did you roll Stealth for their disposition in the Airship fight you posted on page 2?

    The players in my game are accompanying a force of fifty riflemen heading up into the mountains, and they'll be passing through a long mountain pass and probably encamping there. At night, a big pack of undead soldiers and gunslingers (the very men this group was sent to relieve) will descend from mineshafts in the mountains around the pass and fall on the infantry. This will be the first time any of them have encountered the undead.

    I'm planning on using the Walking Dead stats from the Magic Burner. They have basically no skills and attack like ghouls, with hands and teeth. One major advantage the dead will have in this fight is that they can see perfectly in the dark, whereas the humans won't be able to see much at all beyond the light of their kerosene lanterns. How would you represent this? I thought of giving a hefty bonus to Disposition, like +3s. They'll certainly need it, since they don't have any Stealth skill.

    There's also the fact that the dead are effing terrifying, causing Steel tests to anyone who sees them for the first time, and they can take a bullet like a champ. Another hefty Dispo bonus?

    There is an inexperienced NPC captain in command of the riflemen. The PCs aren't really soldiers - they're just accompanied by the soldiers. They don't have any soldiering skills. You recommend that the PCs should be the ones who roll the check. Should they roll Soldiering, or should the NPC captain roll Tactics? Soldiering is the skill of stowing, marching, preparing fighting positions, etc. Why would the rifleman company suffer because the PCs don't know how to march or stow their gear?

    So right now my plan is:
    PCs test Soldiering, untrained. They get +1s (outnumbering enemy), +1s (training advantage), +1s (dozens), +3s (broad enemy exposure) =6s.
    The dead test Stealth, untrained. They get +2s (winning engagement), +1s (better rested), +2s (very heavy troops), +3s (night eyes), +1s (dozens) =9s.

    Also, I'm a little vague on what a feint is in this context. Is it any sort of dangerous gambit, like dividing your forces, a fake retreat, etc? Or is it specifically making a drive at one portion of the enemy lines to draw his reserves there? Since I'm playing flesh-hungry ghouls am I stuck with Attack and Maneuver? If the PCs figure that out they'll just turtle up and Defend until I exhaust myself.

    Sorry for the long, rambling post. Lay your wisdom on me!

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