Jump to content



Photo

Even-Handed Combat


  • Please log in to reply
31 replies to this topic

#1 PencilBoy99

PencilBoy99

    Member

  • Members
  • 102 posts

Posted 23 December 2013 - 07:09 AM

I have two players with highly optimized combat characters (great equipment, out of this world stats). When combat starts, I have a lot of trouble making combat fun for everyone (all of the players enjoy it). If I make the targets easy enough for everyone to hit, these guys mow them down in seconds. If I make the targets tougher, no one but these two can hit them and everyone else but these two gets wounded quickly.



#2 Lynata

Lynata

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,301 posts

Posted 23 December 2013 - 09:12 AM

Mh, this is always a tricky thing. On one hand, it's okay if combat-focused characters get to shine in combat, as it is their chosen specialisation, as long as all combat-focused characters get their own "five minutes of fame". On the other hand, it may become a bit un-fun for the other players even then, as combat does make up a considerable part of the game, and they of course should not be left behind entirely.
 
I've never been a fan of "railroading" combat (such as sending two different types of enemies and have each focus on specific players) that sometimes gets tossed around as a solution, as I believe it to be somewhat unrealistic, and in some cases even further diminishing the other players' role ("oh, player A gets to fight the big boss again whilst we take on the mooks").
 
Personally, I would suggest the following options:
 
Either lower the "problematic" characters' combat efficiency by placing limitations on their gear, such as ammunition shortage or availability of maintenance forcing them to rely on lesser gear for most of the time, keeping the big guns for special occasions. Alternatively you could also enforce a generally lower profile for covert ops where the most powerful weapons and armour would simply invite undue attention and endanger the entire mission, again forcing the players to opt for lesser gear for most encounters.
 
Or boost the other characters by giving them better equipment that, whilst still keeping the onus on the combat specialists, at least allows the others to feel like a valuable addition. An easy formula here could be to keep the combat characters more resilient, but allow the others to dish out an equal amount of damage, and thus to slay the same type or amount of enemies even though the real warriors maintain superiority when it comes to options and survivability. Exactly how the other players get this equipment should depend on the backgrounds of their characters, although you could always just have the Inquisitor requisition something for them after reviewing mission reports and noticing the lack of fighting ability on them.
 
Hope that helps somewhat!

Edited by Lynata, 23 December 2013 - 09:14 AM.

current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine   
previous characters: Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader frigate Artemisia)

#3 Kshatriya

Kshatriya

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,156 posts

Posted 23 December 2013 - 11:17 AM

Just so we know, what careers are the high-powered players and what kind of gear do they have?



#4 PencilBoy99

PencilBoy99

    Member

  • Members
  • 102 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 07:31 AM

Psycher - cool psychic powers, power sword (the one the psychics have), bolter, power armor

Guardsman - hellgun (the fancy one), power armor



#5 Kshatriya

Kshatriya

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,156 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 09:09 AM

What ranks are they?

 

Is your psyker a Templar Calix? Because that alt rank is possibly the most super OP in the game, on top of the most overpowered base class to boot.

 

How exactly does your Guardsman have a hellgun and power armor? Do you mean the D'laku (because that is a pretty sweet gun haha). If this is nice stuff and they're low rank and scavenged it off foes from a prior mission, there's no reason the Inquisition wouldn't take it at mission end to test it for corruption…and then assign it to senior field agents.



#6 PencilBoy99

PencilBoy99

    Member

  • Members
  • 102 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 11:12 AM

They are rank 4. I've allowed them to get absurdly overpowered.



#7 The Inquisition

The Inquisition

    Member

  • Members
  • 116 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 12:04 PM

 

(such as sending two different types of enemies and have each focus on specific players) that sometimes gets tossed around as a solution, as I believe it to be somewhat unrealistic

 

This isn't really too 'unrealistic' itself-- it depends how it's handled.

 

I perhaps usually recommend that challenges for the players be created in many cases by 'sensible adaptation': if the enemy is aware of the capabilities of the players, they may likely try to send things suited to defeat them.

 

Assassins to take out the main combat threat can perhaps be pretty popular among foes.

 

Basically ask yourself: "If these guys were coming for me, how would I stop them?"

 

If you make it plausible and internally consistent from their foe's perspective, players may tend not to mind.
 

 


Edited by The Inquisition, 24 December 2013 - 12:20 PM.


#8 The Inquisition

The Inquisition

    Member

  • Members
  • 116 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 12:16 PM

there's no reason the Inquisition wouldn't take it at mission end to test it for corruption…and then assign it to senior field agents.

 

I would recommend almost never doing this, unless the players agreed to have that kind of game before hand.

 

Taking away hard earned things tends to be extremely annoying to players-- if they lose something, it should usually be because of their own actions.

 

Another useful way of handling combat disparity is simply to give the less-direct-combat characters something else to do during combat.

 

Buttons to push, litanies to read, desperate research to make.

 

Then it's the combat characters job to either protect the others, or alternatively be assisted by the others.

 

Say a tech-priest interfaces with a plasma valve, and opens it on the enemy. There's all sorts of stuff! Make the environment diverse enough for everyone. :)



#9 Lynata

Lynata

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,301 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 02:06 PM

If you make it plausible and internally consistent from their foe's perspective, players may tend not to mind.

 

Perhaps. Your "assassin" solution might work, I think, but usually what gets suggested is just sending two different types of grunts into the field and have each focus on very specific players, regardless of the tactical situation (such as individual characters presenting a better target, or even just being easier to take out due to lack of heavy armour).

And even your assassin would become an "unfair" challenge for the other players if he/she manage to take out their primary target, as you'd expect them to continue with the rest of the group until everyone is down.

 

I'd rather focus on avoiding significant power gaps between the characters in the first place, though there are cases where these RPGs can make this real difficult.

 

I would recommend almost never doing this, unless the players agreed to have that kind of game before hand.

Taking away hard earned things tends to be extremely annoying to players-- if they lose something, it should usually be because of their own actions.

 

Here I fully agree with you. Unfortunately, most Dark Heresy games I hear about have the group's equipment be based largely on looting in spite of playing Inquisitorial agents - in addition to the issue of "taking away hard earned things", it would also send out the double signal of this most powerful institution of the Imperium not only not supporting its operatives by granting them access to an arsenal of specially shelved wargear (like just about every intelligence agency I could think of) but also "stealing" the only stuff they have, kind of negating the primary method of acquiring new gear. I would feel kind of trolled. :P

 

"Alternate challenges" may be a good workaround, though this really depends on the players - do they really not care about them being effective at combat? If so, awarding them with noncom stuff to solve would be nice. But if they feel like a fifth wheel in combat, that'd still suck.

 

What classes do the other players have? Maybe just give them some more powerful toys - nothing that lets them get quite as good as the combat specialists, but something that does at least make them feel like a valuable addition to the team even in combat. Such scenes are just too important to be dominated by one or two single characters.


Edited by Lynata, 24 December 2013 - 02:08 PM.

current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine   
previous characters: Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader frigate Artemisia)

#10 The Inquisition

The Inquisition

    Member

  • Members
  • 116 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 02:57 PM

Perhaps. Your "assassin" solution might work, I think, but usually what gets suggested is just sending two different types of grunts into the field

 

It doesn't necessarily need to be an assassin.

 

The key is to examine the resources the enemy has available, and what they would reasonably do to defeat the players.

 

The main thing is plausibility-- the challenges should seem like they're coming from somewhere, usually the player's own actions and perhaps how the world might respond.

 

So if the enemy has a crazy psyker coming to mindflay them all day... Do they have enough thrones to afford an Untouchable? :)

 

Or maybe the heretics will try to call a Witch Hunter unfamiliar with your acolytes and claim that they're the victims of a heretic psyker coming to kill them.

 

Rambo with a hellgun is coming to shoot them? Well can they afford an AdMech to jam his gun or a powersword melee combatant to try and keep him busy, or even perhaps destroy the weapon?

 

The idea is that it shouldn't be arbitrary. The world should be reacting to your players in a very clearly demonstrable manner, and they should perhaps always have 'agency' in that world.

 

And sure, if the combat specialist gets taken out, everybody else is probably next. The acolytes can always run though. This is the grim darkness of the far future: you may not win every fight. But as long as it's likely reasonable, and the story is perhaps entertaining, it may tend to be fun!

 

 

"Alternate challenges" may be a good workaround, though this really depends on the players - do they really not care about them being effective at combat?

 

If there are largely non-combat characters in the group, the GM should usually try to have clearly placed 'big moments' for them too.

 

Often combat seems the most threatening to players, so many times groups have that feel the 'biggest'.

 

But it need not be so! Have some investigation, repair, oratory, or other challenges that perhaps have a similar 'timing' element.

 

"You've got three tests to repair the plasma exhaust, or that delegation eats it."

"The crowd seems to be waiting for your speech. Three tests to sway them to heretic killing."

"Will you piece together the right codephrase from Epistles 2-7 and a child's drawing? Roll."

 

I may tend to give bonuses for reasonably described tactics, though.

 

For each challenge, try to make the players aware of the results of their actions!

In combat it can tend to be more obvious, but for other challenges it may benefit from more GM tracking and description likely both as the action occurs and at times afterward.

 

For more entertaining combat with noncombatant-style characters as well, you may wish to look over their skills and try to consider what those could do in a firefight environment.

 

And remember: Grenades exist. :D


Edited by The Inquisition, 24 December 2013 - 02:58 PM.


#11 Kshatriya

Kshatriya

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,156 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 06:52 PM

"it would also send out the double signal of this most powerful institution of the Imperium not only not supporting its operatives by granting them access to an arsenal of specially shelved war gear"

 

Except there are no rules for this at the acolyte level. Acolytes are expected to spend their (shitty) salaries on gear or loot it, by the RAW, unless you're a BoM Battle Sister. And, frankly, there are fluff reasons for the Inquisition not to throw money at you at low levels, but that falls away quickly, without rules suggestions to support another option.


  • PencilBoy99 likes this

#12 Kshatriya

Kshatriya

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,156 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 06:54 PM

They are rank 4. I've allowed them to get absurdly overpowered.

No offense intended but I think the problem is that you let that stuff be available/findable in the first place. Leaving aside how ridiculously OP the Templar Calix is, free Force Weapon and all.


  • PencilBoy99 likes this

#13 Lynata

Lynata

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,301 posts

Posted 24 December 2013 - 07:03 PM

Except there are no rules for this at the acolyte level.

 

Yes, but that's not what I meant. It's the combination of "we won't give you anything" and "we'll take away what you get elsewhere" that I find particularly negative.

 

That I don't agree with Dark Heresy's focus on looting in general is another issue, but one that doesn't really play any role here.


  • PencilBoy99 likes this
current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine   
previous characters: Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader frigate Artemisia)

#14 PencilBoy99

PencilBoy99

    Member

  • Members
  • 102 posts

Posted 25 December 2013 - 07:22 AM

I agree this is my fault. I should never have allowed this to happen. However, I've run lots of other games before and never run into this problem. There are always a few characters that are great at combat, but everyone always has the option to be cool except now!



#15 Lynata

Lynata

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,301 posts

Posted 25 December 2013 - 12:46 PM

Not to worry, with so many different systems there's bound to be complications when transitioning from one to another at some time. :)

 

Dark Heresy and its sister games may be a bit .. weird in that it create really huge disparities between characters just by nature of how the combat system works. The "escalation" of stacking resilience by armour and Toughness Bonus means that a whole lot of weapons that are still dangerous to less-well-equipped characters may become laughably weak against other members of the party just because they are 4-6 points tougher. It is even possible to have characters and enemies who have a greater total resilience than they have hitpoints. Of course there are always weapons that deal even more damage, but .. as you yourself have pointed out, they simultaneously run an even higher risk of overpowering the other players. Not to mention that this is what causes the combat specialists in your game to apparently "instakill" every foe they encounter.

 

I still think the easiest fix would be to give the other characters comparable weapons (inferno pistols, plasma weapons, that sort of stuff) and then up the difficulty rating of the encounters. Have the Guardsman become the "tank" of the group and take a front position. Also enforce the battery limitations of the suit. It is perhaps a little early in the game for such developments, but I feel it'd be preferable to just confiscating everything. The main idea is that everyone is having fun! :)

 

Another option would be to houserule the combat mechanics (various ideas have been posted across the forums) to make encounters slightly more lethal to the less-equipped players but considerably more lethal to the well-equipped ones (by lowering the aforementioned resilience escalation), but maybe it'd be better to get used to the RAW and try other solutions first.


current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine   
previous characters: Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader frigate Artemisia)

#16 Kshatriya

Kshatriya

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,156 posts

Posted 25 December 2013 - 05:03 PM

 

Except there are no rules for this at the acolyte level.

 

Yes, but that's not what I meant. It's the combination of "we won't give you anything" and "we'll take away what you get elsewhere" that I find particularly negative.

 

That I don't agree with Dark Heresy's focus on looting in general is another issue, but one that doesn't really play any role here.

 

Yeah, I wouldn't suggest combining those ideas, with the caveat of if the players are part of Ordo Xenos and they find, say, Unique Ordo Malleus warded armor, it doesn't make much in-setting sense to just let them keep it forever.



#17 bogi_khaosa

bogi_khaosa

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,008 posts

Posted 27 December 2013 - 05:16 AM

I submit that there is no weapon in  the 40K line that leaps from deadly to laughably useless just because someone's toughness is 4-6 points higher.



#18 Lynata

Lynata

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,301 posts

Posted 27 December 2013 - 06:40 AM

Because of Righteous Fury? ;)

 

Also note that I said "dangerous", not "deadly". Subtle but, in this context, important difference.


current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine   
previous characters: Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader frigate Artemisia)

#19 ranoncles

ranoncles

    Member

  • Members
  • 201 posts

Posted 27 December 2013 - 04:12 PM

Ok. Let me start by saying you made a big mistake by letting them get ubergear. Especially power armour.
So what is the solution?

Tougher enemies and a tougher GM......

They play acolytes, e.g. covert investigators. That is the answer! And you need to enforce this.
Simple mesh armour and a pistol allows them to go about their job without gaining attention. And when they do storm the evil cult, the ubergear gets used.

Also have the bad guys react intelligently. First throw mooks at them. If they get annihilated, the second attack will include heavy weapons or grenades.
Then get creative with murder/gun servitors or side plots. For example inform the local gangers that a rival is moving in....


If the psyker gets too fond of his powers, have the local authorities step in. His constant use of powers is weakening the barrier between real space and the warp.....or creating spontaneous mutations in the populace.
Or have the psyker gain the attention of a warp creature and get a corruption point each time he uses his powers.

This is not meant to punish the player but warp powers are dangerous and should be used wisely. If used at will, there must be consequences....

Edited by ranoncles, 27 December 2013 - 04:13 PM.

  • Kshatriya likes this

#20 Lynata

Lynata

    Member

  • Members
  • 2,301 posts

Posted 27 December 2013 - 06:20 PM

If the psyker gets too fond of his powers, have the local authorities step in. His constant use of powers is weakening the barrier between real space and the warp.....or creating spontaneous mutations in the populace.

 

This is not bad advice at all ... reports of seemingly unsanctioned psychic ability will invite a reaction from local authorities, which in turn could force the players to reveal their Inquisitorial mandate early on, possibly tipping off informants the enemy has inside the government.

 

As much as I'd prefer if the game would make one of the players an Inquisitor from the start, Dark Heresy's approach does have the advantage of making the Inquisitor available as a GM-NPC to subtly guide and steer the players' efforts. Use this to your advantage, and - provided they wanted this investigation to be conducted in the shadows - have him or her chastise the acolytes for their tendency towards overkill, and lack of subtlety. Perhaps this would be sufficient to have them change their ways on their own?

 

Ideally, like a good RPG, each investigation should always offer multiple ways to solve a mission - yet the direct approach, guns blazing, with powered armour and psychic phenomena, would come with its very own disadvantages for the acolytes to deal with. Make sure they are not overwhelmed (at least not immediately), but at the same time try to have them get the idea that it'd be smart to consider a different path. ;)


current 40k RPG character: Captain Elias, Celestial Lions Tactical Marine   
previous characters: Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader frigate Artemisia)




© 2013 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. Fantasy Flight Games and the FFG logo are ® of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact | User Support | Rules Questions | Help | RSS