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Roleplaying NPC/Monster Tactics


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#1 HashKey64

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 07:20 AM

Some of my Players want me to make house rules so they can hide behind other PC's to be harder to hit. If they are hurt they can seek shelter from the front line. I've been resisting this because I feel its not in line with what is intended by the designers.

 

There is a handful of Actions that can be played to protect other PCs but some of my players says that these Actions are not enough.

 

Basically they dont like that by directing all the attacks from a group of enemies the GM can take down almost any PC (even thou I never do this). They dont like that the option is on the table and can be used and they feel that the system is broken because it exists.
 

So, GMs, how do you direct your NPCs/Monsters attacks not to upset your Players?


Edited by HashKey64, 07 May 2014 - 01:29 PM.


#2 Ralzar

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 07:51 AM

Usually, weaker and/or ranged characters will hang in the back while the fighters go in front or charge into the enemy. In these cases it is rather natural that the enemies mostly wind up fighting the bigger threats that are in their faces. More cowardly and opportunistic enemies might skip around the main brawl and try to go for some easier targets.

 

If there is a choice of who to attack where one of the characters is not an obvious choice, I often just roll a dice where decide ahead of time who will be attacked. This can usually be decided with a Challenge Dice where you assign different players different sides of the dice. Chaos Star can always be used for the monster deciding to do something unexpected.


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#3 r_b_bergstrom

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 09:55 AM

Every character has access to Guarded Position, so if someone is in bad shape, they or someone else in the same engagement can spend their action to add extra difficulty dice to attacks. Two extra black dice doesn't reduce the "to hit" chance by a heck of a lot, but it does greatly degrade the overall quality (mostly damage) of the average hit. They could also use any remaining Fortune Points to pull recharge off their Active Defenses. Imperiled characters have a lot of defensive options, and piling on the black dice works pretty well in my experience. The system works pretty well as-is once the players realize all their options.

 

For example, unless they've got really low Toughness ratings, or taken a lot of fatigue already, most PCs can just run the heck away. A PC that takes 4 fatigue to disengage and run to Long range (and then does Guarded Position or Assess The Situation there) is suddenly a much less interesting target, as most NPCs have to pay 4 wounds just to reach them. It's far from guaranteed (a Nemesis or a high Wound Threshold enemy might pursue).

 

(Also, you might encourage them to buy the bonus defensive reactions. Armour Expertise, Bodyguard, Celerity, Dirty Tricks, and Ward can all penalize incoming attacks without costing you your own action for the turn. The same is true about Bloodsplatter if you're in Conservative Stance and good at killing things.)

 

The existence of Guarded Position (and all the various reactions mentioned above) makes it a little dangerous to add house-rules allowing players to somehow restrict targeting. If one PC can hide behind another, and also use Guarded Position (or any of the other Actions that let you boost the defense of a nearby ally) on their whole engagement, you can quickly end up in a situation where the only valid target has a ridiculously inflated Defense rating.

 

I'm not saying "don't do it" necessarily, just that if you are going to include such a house rule, you should probably get rid of Guarded Position (and Improved Guarded Position, and then take a good look at Bodyguard, Assess the Situation, etc) so that you're not creating an easily exploited "turtling" loophole. What you _don't_ want is multiple characters in every engagement holding back and using guarded position to make the group invulnerable, and manoeuvring to give an assist to the only character that's actually attacking. That's a bordering-on-viable tactic with the rules as written, and would definitely be game-breakingly good if the PCs could (on top of all that) choose to make their highest Defense & Soak character be the only legal target.  Proceed with caution, and don't just blindly trust that your players won't abuse such a loophole. If they're so concerned about a perceived loophole that you've already told them you won't abuse, it kinda implies they'd be strongly tempted to abuse similar loopholes if the situation were reversed.


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#4 HashKey64

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 01:50 PM

I don't think my Players will abuse it (that much). I've been talking to them again and what they are asking for is a sense of where they are in a group during a fight. Up in the front line or skulking at the back (or stand their ground in the middle). Ofcourse this can be handled by roleplaying "what they do" but they seem to want to formalise it a bit more so it is a house rule.  If a PC's placement within a group is at the back (+1 Misfortune Dice extra to the attack?) and a PC's position is up at the front - he/she will be harder to ignore by the NPCs/Monsters (+1 Misfortune Dice extra to attack others?).

My biggest concern is the extra bookkeeping and of course if it tilts the balance too much.



#5 Emirikol

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 09:08 PM

I kill odd one trick ponies faster than swatting a mosquito.  I have strong bias against people who think they're playing D&D where the realities of combat come down to 5' steps, AC34's, buff spells, and a spell for every problem (and sometimes I'm just a rat-bastard GM and single out the weak as well).  

 

So, what your players are asking for is immunity to death so that they can min-max their character and play artillery from the back row.

 

I'd tell them to suck it up..then I'd throw 18 goblin non-henchmen on the ironbreaker and kill him right in front of the wizard and have them carry off their stunty prize to chief Skarsnik ;)

 

Its your game dude, but your players sound like a type of soft cat.


Edited by Emirikol, 07 May 2014 - 09:10 PM.

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#6 Carcosa

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 09:54 PM

The simple reality is, glass cannons should be exactly that, glass. Our wizard goes splat ALL the time (oh, he does not die........mostly) simply because our ref runs the monsters according to their intelligence. If they are dumb grunts, sure, they run into the meatgrinders. If not, well, they play it smart and get the guy killing more than one of them at a go.

 

There are so many inbuilt ways via actions, talents and gear to stay relatively safe that can see no reasonable need to add or house rule on it to keep them safer. My current ref often complains that there are too MANY ways for us to stay safe, and I agree with him to an extent. Even fresh faced characters can be hard to kill as long as your players are smart about their choices.


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#7 Eradico Pravus

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 12:08 AM

Some of my Players want me to make house rules so they can hide behind other PC's to be harder to hit. If they are hurt they can seek shelter from the front line. I've been resisting this because I feel its not in line with what is intended by the designers.

 

Taking hard cover is one thing but I think it's a little ridiculous to try and hide behind another PC during combat. Would they want to play it so that the party wizard and sharpshooters can only fire on the mooks in the front line and not the evil boss in the rear? 

 

There is a handful of Actions that can be played to protect other PCs but some of my players says that these Actions are not enough.

 

Basically they dont like that by directing all the attacks from a group of enemies the GM can take down almost any PC (even thou I never do this). They dont like that the option is on the table and can be used and they feel that the system is broken because it exists.
 

So, GMs, how do you direct your NPCs/Monsters attacks not to upset your Players?

 

I would tell them politely as you can, "Too bad!" :)

 

As you rightfully state it could lead to tedious and unecessary book-keeping. And the other posters here have made excellent suggestions on how PCs can improve one's defenses RAW. 

 

But c'mon, this is Warhammer where life is cheap and death comes easy!

 

Gosh, Hashkey, from your descriptions it seems like you are a very fair and amenable GM. At some point there has to be a level of trust in the GM's fairness. Despite my GMs "rat bastard" persona, he consistently makes rulings in the PCs favor where he could do otherwise. We game, sometimes we die, but we always have a blast! :)

 

And if your party still doesn't buy it then have them read this thread. :)


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#8 HashKey64

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Posted 08 May 2014 - 03:10 AM

I will have to defend myself! ;)
I can be quite brutal and I wont mind 1-2 PCs die during the beginning of an campaign to get the Players in the right 'mood'.

But we (our group) dont min-max that much. Players lean toward choices that suit their characters not what is the most effective action/skill/talent or combination (except this single guy but he lacks the mental capacity to do it so its okey).
We just wanna have a good time and that is a goal we complete every session!

Thank your for all your advice - good stuff all of your replies!
 


Edited by HashKey64, 08 May 2014 - 07:28 AM.

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#9 GMmL

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Posted 14 May 2014 - 08:08 AM

At first I relied on some of the descriptions in the Creature Guide to determine NPC behaviour. Player tactics aside I mostly wanted to make sure that goblins act like goblins, vampires act like vampires, dark elves act like dark elves, etc. From there I can select the appropriate cards and behaviors to counter or challenge the table.



#10 valvorik

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 01:02 PM

I allow that only in  a "sauce for goose is for gander too" fashion.

 

Yup to "guarded position is your friend".  When we came over from D&D one of the first things we saw was "that's heck of a lot more useful than "defensive action".

 

Not in a simple "I stand in front of my buddy" way though generally if someone "offers themselves" as a target my NPCs will take them as one unless they realize "that archer or wizard or whatever MUST DIE NOW".

 

One foe, 3 of you - remember your old Star Trek "I come for you Captain Kirk" killer AI., okay 2 can block though then CANNOT DODGE!  One Ring RPG is sort of like this (must have 2 guys in front row for every guy who wants to hang back).

 

Once foes > PC's, they can run around and flank etc. (One Ring also has a point where "okay they outnumber you so much there is no "back")

 

In "open terrain" once 'everyone engaged' it's a big ass romp (think action movie with people boucning all over) there's no static front line/rear etc.

 

If you want to have controlled lines be in in corridors and alleys etc. - and same goes for bad guys.  The necromancer is further back in the alley and the zombies up front...


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#11 k7e9

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 09:59 PM

Many good points have allready been made, but I feel I must bring one thing up.

 

Basically, the players want to dictate that you, as a GM, cannot attack anyone you wish. But then the NPCs/monsters should have the same option. I doubt that the players would want you to tell them who they can and cannot attack.

 

Combat in WFRP is fluid, especially in open areas. Players might hide behind eachother if they fought in a tight fighting formation, (using the similar weapons and tactics etc.) but I doubt they do that. Also, most groups are too small to become an effective formation. It's hard to hide behind only one or two friends, in a fight it would be easy for the enemy to slip around that.

 

As many have said, guarded position is the way to go if you want to defend your friends.



#12 Nimsim

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:42 AM

If your players want to spend a maneuver hiding behind someone, have them do a coordination check as a manoeuvre (finally - chance to use the dodge specialty!) in order to add some misfortune to attackers. Feel free to add difficulty or misfortune to the coordination check based on whether they've already been attacking or if they're in an easy position to be flanked.

Whenever your players want to add an action, don't forget about Perform a Stunt. It's there for them to make up new actions, and for you to assign appropriate difficulty. If your players want to use some tactics, give them fortune dice. If they just want an action giving them immunity to being attacked, they'll have to roll for it. The game already has bodyguard type actions for people to use.
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#13 DurakBlackaxe

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 03:49 AM

If they use the other character as a shield. Add penalties to that other character so they suffer. Thus causing increases tension. Combat is fluid so they could still be hit but get an extra defense.

 

A human ducking behind a Dwarf would mean your movement / dodge be impaired.


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#14 DrWorm73

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 10:24 PM

It sounds to me like your players want a slightly more tactical combat encounter, and you can do this pretty easily while keeping the abstract feel.  My group likes a map, and uses a wet-erase grid mat to draw things out so there is a general idea of what the environment is like.  We eye-ball call things like how tight an area is, and it gives us good ideas about line of sight, but we are not grinding into a D&D style strategy game.

 

The new thing I am trying for The Witch's Song is I hand made some terrain pieces for the anticipated combat encounters and designated that each 3" x 3" tile is one move action to cover.  If you are one tile away from the opponent then you are at close, if you are in the same tile then you are engaged, and so on.  Additionally there are line of site issues or movement through difficult spots, but it is still abstract.  I am not concerned with actual distance and combat actually comes down to less bickering about placement.  You could do the same thing with any number of "dungeon tile" products to just give your players that visual reinforcement.


Edited by DrWorm73, 15 June 2014 - 10:27 PM.





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