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"So we finally meet! I shall rend you…" SPLAT!


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#1 AM_Odin

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:12 PM

 

This is one that happens in a lot of systems: the  heroes get to the end of the adventure and finally meet the big bad whatever. I set the scene, there may even be monologue and an exciting climactic scene should erupt. Instead the heroes (sometimes not even all of them) strike once and all that is left of the villain are small pieces. Sometimes this goes so fast that the heroes just step over his/her/its corpse, thinking it to be a henchman. 
 
Just to check if I'm doing things (more or less) right, I took te statistics of the party of four from 'A day late…' (my party has five characters). Reduced them to swinging swords and shooting (sorry grey apprentice) and assume they roll at least 1 succes on their combat roll:
 
Envoy - longbow - DR6/CR2 Ag 4 -- damage output on 1 succes: 10
Wizard app. - sword - DR5/CR3, S3  -- damage output on 1 succes: 8
Roadwarden - pistol - DR6/CR2, AG 4, -- damage output on 1 succes: 10
Troll Slayer - axe - double strike - DR5/CR3 S 5 -- damage output on 1 succes: 10, more likely (2 succeses needed on WS) 2x10
 
Now let's take a real tough monster like the daemon from Eye for an Eye. It has a combined tough and soak of 8 and 18 wounds. The envoy and road warden will each do 2 damage each round. The wizard will not make an impression. The troll slayer will do either 2 or 2 times 2 damage each round. This makes the total player damage output per round 6 or 8 wounds. That gives the daemon in it's strong form 3 rounds to wreak havoc. Ok, I can work with that. Although for a strong daemon it is a bit weak. 
 
Then it gets worse. I just finished playing the Witch's Song and to reduce spoilers to a bare minimum. At the final pivotal scene there are two npc's. Both have a combined tough and soak of 5 and 12 wounds. Even though they are hard to hit, every pc should be able to roll at least 1 succes a round (sorry troll slayer, only 1 axe for you). That would make the damage output of the party 18, more than enough to kill one of the npc's in the first round, with some left over to compensate for bad initiative rolls. My group of five could have cut through both npc's in a heartbeat, it was only mercy that held them back.
 
Right now the party is fast approaching the villain of Edge of Night. The book has even got a climax of the heroes fighting the lone villain. He should be able to monologue, do some damage, make the players sweat and then run away. I see a pathetic one-sided slaughter on the horizon…almost as bad as our party meeting Etelka in 2nd ed (she opened her mouth, or ranger put an arrow through her head (and some people think the knee is bad ;).
 
On the witches song I decided to extend the life of one of the characters by picking up critical hit cards for every hit over the wound threshold up to toughness. This extended the life of that NPC by one round, not really enough to make any impression whatsoever. So I'm wondering, are there any tricks that do not depend on 'magical force fields' and fudged rolls to make an NPC survive. 
 
In other words: what do you use to make the climactic fight scene….climactic?


#2 Yepesnopes

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:43 PM

You have many options I guess.

One could be to never present end scenario /chapter villians alone, always with an escort that would jump in between him and the PC party.

Aside, I got tired of the uber-powerfull PCs and glass-cannon NPC policy of Warhammer 3, and I redesinged many NPC going back to Warhammer 2 flavour. If you ara interested, you can find the stats in my signature. Not all of them are redesigned of course, goblins, orcs etc. are manly left untouched, but Trolls, Giants, Dragons, and the like are really tough, as I imagine they should be.

Cheers,

Yepes


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#3 MaSc

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 10:44 PM

I usually try to better my chances with aggression dice against the heroes attack rolls. I also use cunning dice in battles to better my initiative sometimes. It seems appropriate to have a very cunning enemy act first. Also try to build up a scene with monologue before anyone can act. Like a voice from the dark speaking its villainous monologues. Then some henchmen appear to distract the player characters and after a short rallystep (henchmen still alive, supposedly) the villain appears as the first acting character in the turn and try to hit a player character as hard as he can. Don't forget to use expertise dice on your first attack to leave an impression. And don't forget to use reactions like parry, block and doge. If your player characters are still to hard, than use the epic templates from Hero's Call.



#4 DevoutBadger

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:13 AM

Aren't the adventures designed for three players, therefore requireing compensation for a five player group?



#5 Glorian Underhill

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 12:55 AM

It is right that thrid Edition big Monsters aren't that though. So increase wounds on Big Monsters.

 

What is also true that Big single monsters are less dangerous than 6 Snotlings, each one with a glasshard as a weapon. The Snotlings are squished if hit, but some of them can soak the active defences while the others still deal damage. So if you have a bad Endboss then as mentioned give him some minions abd don't let him stand alone against the group of players. As for big Monsters, give them more wounds or extra bad actions like the one from the dragon ogre of harrower of Thanes or the Stroming attack of the Gor Walord from Eye for an Eye. That will bring them a little to sweat.



#6 valvorik

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 01:31 AM

Seconding advice above, adding that making sure heroes have just finished an at least moderately challenging Act and so may have recharge tokens on some of their choicest actions and be carrying a bit of fatigue or stress when entering the encounter.

I find, particularly at high levels, the right "signature move" rolled well really takes a monster down hard most of the time.  Overall, I like more 'a pair of ubervillains, a team' etc. to make it less "one single target's fate defines the entire encounter".  The Skaven Grayseer is deadly with those spells but my oh my that Rat Ogre is dishing out the damage too, and the corrupting warpstone spikey things that Eshin assassin keeps throwing are really annoying, but then again all the fortune dice that mob of ratmen keep adding to their attacks is actually making them kinda dangerous too……



#7 dvang

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 09:34 AM

The methodology of WFRP3 is to give the PCs only slight breathers, such that by the time they are facing the big bad villain, they are severely weakened.

Besides that, remember that no NPC is really "the same" and that GMs are encouraged to modify NPCs from the base statline. So, it is within the GMs power to increase the NPC's wounds, or give them additional equipment, or bump up a stat or two.

Beyond that, the easy solution is to allow the use of A/C/E dice. Rather than restricting Boss NPCs to Dodge/Parry/Block, allow them to use A/C/E dice for defense. A/C would give a misfortune, while an E would add a challenge die.  This lessens the ability for the PCs to hit in the first place, which will make the PC last longer.

Then again, combat in WFRP is supposed to be short and brutal, not just for the PCs but also for NPCs.  Simply put, I agree with previous comments that the Boss should not be by himself. He should most often be accompanied by allies, unless the PCs are nearly dead themselves. In fact, cinematically, the Boss normally does not show himself until the PCs are beaten down and he comes out to gloat at the PCs… or the PCs have hacked their way through the defenses with great injury to themselves, to fight the Boss as an underdog.

If the PCs can take out the Boss "in 3 rounds", then the Boss should be potentially knocking out the PCs one each round.



#8 k7e9

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:20 PM

A hard thing when designing adventures I believe to be balance. WFRP3ed have monsters that are quite easy for a group consisting of soldiers, waywatchers, iron breakers, battle wizards and so on. But the same might be a severe threat for a group of envoys, pedlars, minstrels, servants and commoners.

My group has only one real fighter character (a zelot - witch hunter) and she is not even an "optimized" fighter, but still a good fighter. The others are focused in other areas such as medicine/education (barber surgeon - scribe), telling stories/singing (minstrel - performer) and stealing stuff (thief - master thief). As only one player even had WS/BS trained, the group had big trouble hitting the NPC's at the end of the witch's song, also they were already wounded, weakened, desiesed etc from the adventure up to the final encounter. They also had big problems fighting the last encounter in the death on the reik adventure, and also a player died and the others were forced to flee or die when they met a band of beastmen in the woods in the same adventure. Almost all combat encounters are dangerous for them.

Since WFRP players can play characters with no fighting skills, all out fighting charcters or anything in between. Therefor the GM must tailor the encounters to fit the group playing the adventure. How easy/hard a written encounter is will depend on the composition of careers come in, number of players, character rank, training checks in weapon/balistic skill, Strength/Agility/Toughness scores, weapons/armour, if the players are wounded (critically)/insane/sick to some extent action cards, talents and party sheet.

A lot to take into consideration, which is impossible when writing the adventure so GM's have to modify accordingly. It might be appropriate to add some "cannon fodder" that needs to be killed before the final boss can be engaged, giving the boss time to monologue. You could even begin the monologue by "as you fight the last minions between you and [the boss] he starts speaking…" Then you can give the monologue and decide that now the minions are dead and the final fight can ensue. That way, you ensure that the whole monologue is told and that the players cannot interrupt it (as they are fighting minions while the boss is talking).

Finally, you could use the "upgrade" templates in the Hero's Call to buff up your final bad guy. Some of them add quite a lot of wounds, soak and toughness.



#9 Yepesnopes

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 09:27 PM

As an additional note, probably the best way to introduce bad-guy monologues is by introducing a rally step. In that way, the bad guy can talk and talk and talk while the PCs can revoer a bit of fatigue, stress or wounds, but since it is a rally step, nobody can perform attack actions (if I am not wrong there are si far no offensive actions that canbe played during a rally step).

 

Cheers,

Yepes


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#10 AM_Odin

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 12:34 AM

Thanks for all the great replies. I think I will try the following for my next encounter:

- Add some henchmen that will be using Guarded Position, adding one or two misfortune dice to the engagement with the added fun of giving the players some to slice away to make the combat easier.

- Some main npc related props that will add wounds, armour and misfortune to direct attacks. Maybe some warpstone thingies (mental note: think up a cooler name before next session) that add a magic force field/mist of chaos/whatever effect that ups soak and makes the target harder to hit. 

- The cavalry, a bunch of loyal henchmen blocking the player as the bad guy starts to make his retreat. 

That should give the players some considerations in combat (do we go for direct strikes or do we soften the bad guy up first?). It will not up the threat level to astronomic proportions (guarded position cancels a strike) and it gives the non-combat npc's more to do (I can allready envision our groups agitator fast talking skaven lackies into stealing the ever so precious but important warpstone thingies (must remember to think of a name). 

I will start uping the wound on bigger creatures, but I think this will make for a fun encounter, after next weeks session, I will report back.

Thanks all.



#11 Boehm

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:06 AM

Yepesnopes said:

You have many options I guess.

One could be to never present end scenario /chapter villians alone, always with an escort that would jump in between him and the PC party.

Aside, I got tired of the uber-powerfull PCs and glass-cannon NPC policy of Warhammer 3, Cheers,

Yepes

 

Ditto …IMO its too easy for "optimised" characters to dish out 16+ W in one attack … Im considering proposing the following to our group:

- For ranged weapons replace character Ag as damage stat - with a weapon accuracy of '4' for all weapons requiring a 'reload' maneouver & 'Strength' for all others

- For melee weapons - reduce all damage ratings by 1. (this will especially restrict the actious allowing u to "double weapon dam")

- Re-evalute the recharge on certain action cards such as Troll Feller Strike etc.

 

Lisewise Im also bit annoyed by the survivability of high T + heavy armour characters, so …

- Remove armour soak from shields, replacing any such with a extra difficulty die when using 'block'

- Reduce all soak from heavy armours by 1 - increase defence by one instead … (glancing blows & ability to schrug crits).

 



#12 AM_Odin

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:05 PM

I don't know about lowering damage and soak values for players. In my opinion my role as GM is to help everyone have the best time possible as we collaborate on a story. I think doing this would give people the feeling I'm lowering the value of their characters with actions that only influence combat, not the way the story is played. 

Last saturday I did get a chance to implement some of the other ideas as my players valiantly fought the Skaven grey seer and his rat-ogre bodyguard. It turns out I missed the line in Edge of Night that allready gave the seer +2 misfortune dice versus ranged missile and magical attacks, which did a lot to hinder the groups archer. I added three regular clanrats to the mix, two to dish out damage and one to hold a guarde position to protects his clanmates. On the whole the damage these rats dished out turned out to be just enough to make the players worry. 

Upon seeing a magic user the entire party ignored all other combatants to focus output on this threat. All I can say is 'long live Skitterleap' which teleported te seer right into all the players not made for close combat, while leaving the fighters horribly exposed to the other threats. In the end the Rat Ogre managed to knock the groups Sword Master unconscious (and give him a critical hit). But in return it was damaged enough to be shot after this round. 

The seer dealt some damage to the other group members, managed to monologue (a bit) and Skitterleap'ed out of the scene to return at a later date (I skipped the hunt after him from the scenario as the evening was drawing late). 

The best part however was when our Acolyte of Ulric gave a wolfs howl and dealt 1 stress damage to the seer, rat ogre and the one clanrat still standing. The clanrat at that point had only 1 wound left so the pathetic creature heard the priest howl and died of a heart attack caused by fright. I love 3rd ed. and the way some rules just add to the story (chaos dice are even better of course :).

In all adding misfortune by thinkig up story elements (warpstone mist around the seer) and adding some bad guys that work for defence (or get knocked over while defending because compatriots roll chaos dice) makes the combat last long enough to be interesting (prevents the 'splat' moment) without threatening the lives of all players (not my style of campaign).

Thanks to all who contributed to this thread.



#13 Boehm

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:11 AM

Glad to see it worked out for you :)

 

that beign said IMO WFRP suffers a bit from the following issue which my suggestions were trying to help balance:

* Certain PC builds / action / weapon / stat combos just do 'too much' damage ei. basically actions allowing adding a stat-bonus or DR to damage more than once (which in case of S5 or 2hweapon just gets out of hand).

* Its too easy hitting = very difficult to avoid being hit = heavy armour too powerful … or vice versa, unarmoured roguish characters too vulnerable due to dodge not being overly effective.

 

I have been running a couple of different idea around in my mind (slightly edited of what I posted earlier):

1) Capping damage (particularly from those "add extra +DR to damage") by reducing all DR 6+ weapons by 1, as compensation give them an extra level of armour piercing.

2) Capping damage by encouraging more balanced stats - ei. instead of pt cost of: 2/3/4/5/6 use 1/3/5/7/9 thus a '5' in S would then cost 16 pts. vs. 14 now.

Additionally, I feel lighly armoured characters are at too great a disadvantage - particularly if the encounters need to balanced in order to challange the high soak guys in heavy armour - in those instanses the lighly armoured are truly in trouble due to dodge not really doing that much ….for this reason I think rather than upping the strenght of the opponents - just cap the soak of the heavy armours … I mean they are already damn good …

 

In a completely different approach - I have been wondering about increasing the general miss-chance in combat, thus both making defence and status-inflicting cards have a greater impact. My idea is running along the line of simply assuming any attack targeting defence ALWAYS rolls 3 ability dice + fortune/misfortune dice per pt. your ability deviates from 3 + any expertise dice ofcause + 2 standard difficulty dice + any dice from defence. The advantage of this idea is that it would again cap the effectiveness of maxing out a single stat - would lower the overall to-hit chance thus increasing effectiveness of defence while at the same time not penalizing un-optimised characters ….I mean does a S2 character really need to have his strenght based melee penalized any further I think not … (he would actually have a slightly increased to his chance this way)

 

end of rambling



#14 AM_Odin

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:38 AM

I think I see your point. The addition of extra misfortune does little  to help againt ultrakill actions like the wood-elf waywachter in our group who has a Rapid Fire action that reduces a rather heavy rat-ogre from around 20 wounds to 2 wounds in one (very risky) action. I also like the idea of changing DR to Pierce. But on the other hand, that would take away my option to hang some heavy armour on important bad guys. 

So as to heavy armour for my players I use encumbrance. This is by the way the first time in 30 years of roleplaying that I actually manage to use encumbrance for more than one session (home made item cards rule :). Wearing heavy armour, a greatsword and a backpack full of assorted knick-knacks means being encumbered in combat, getting extra fatigue and Initiative penalties. So the lightly armoured characters are at an advantage on that front, plus it answers the age old question on why a rogue would not wear half plate (it reduces the amount of loot you can carry). 

I see the point of changing the rules to balance things out, but my preference goes to keeping the unbalance and finding story elements to make it work.

 



#15 valvorik

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:00 AM

I too look for ways in scenario set up etc. to balance out things rather than rules tinkering.  The biggest rule thing I have done is just add a "challenge dice added to all actions targeting this character" featuer to "Potent" NPC's etc., borrowing from a feature of some official daemons.



#16 Boehm

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:00 AM

valvorik said:

I too look for ways in scenario set up etc. to balance out things rather than rules tinkering.  The biggest rule thing I have done is just add a "challenge dice added to all actions targeting this character" featuer to "Potent" NPC's etc., borrowing from a feature of some official daemons.

I completely see your point - I maybe your idea IS better … I do however see one issue, namely that you are effectively increasing difficulty for EVERYONE …thus simply giving incentive to min/max even more … since now a S3 melee fighter will be even more 'useless' …whereas a S5 & WS2 character will probably still easily be able to do 16-20 pts of damage ….

My point is I do NOT think the system is simply too "easy" … I simply think it rewards min-maxing too much, especially the very heavy armour or ranged type of characters = its less fun playing roguesh characters or less combat orientated ones. Now ofcause less combat orientated characters SHOULD be at a penalty - but at the moment I just feel the difference is too big - …and due to high damage and low miss chance - I feel like characters really become glass canons with very little lasting ability unless dressed up in really heavy armour and with high T, almost regardless of what defensive cards they have.

 



#17 AM_Odin

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:51 AM

There are no better or worse ideas, just different ones :) 

As to non-combat characters in combat. I think they should be at a severe disadvantage if they start stabbing or shooting. What helps a lot is killing any silly ideas of learning languages as a skill (I stole this one from someone else, but I forgot who) and just make all languages English (or in my groups case Dutch, but you get the point). That way a rogue can start distracting creatures with lies, or other more social manoeuvres. It also gives you a chance to have the players listen in on monsters griping about guarding doorways and the like. 

In the same spirit, and then I'm far enough off topic for one day :) My player's characters will never die unless the player wants it. They may get interesting scars, go utterly insane and mutate beyond recognition, but they will always come back up, cure and fight another day unless the player wants his character to retire. The reasons are many but in the most basic part. We did not as a group just spend months building up a character and getting to know him or her only to have him die without the right story elements in play. That is what standard NPC's and henchmen are for and with that I do manage to (barely) get back on topic as I now have a way to stop major NPC's/nemesis types from dying with a splay (the returning is never a problem, just give them a scar or some animated new limbs and return the creeps :)



#18 Yepesnopes

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 05:59 AM

I agree in general with the min/max issue of Warhammer 3 (it has difficult solution).

Regarding armours, we already started to discus this some time ago in another post. What worked for me was to increase armour encumbrance, and favour the gaining of fatigue when wearing armour, although I am still not happy with the rules I developed regarding this last point.

Cheers,

Yepes


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#19 gruntl

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:52 AM

There are quite a few tools available already to delay the players when they try to defeat the big bad. Using henchmen and rally steps to weaken the players and force them to use resources before the final fight is one good option. 

But when it comes to the final fight the GM can make the fight quite hard for the PC's already without using any house rules. As dvang mentioned, using Aggression dice to add misfortune to player attacks is an excellent way of making PCs miss (and is an official rule listed in the FAQ). That Trollslayer or Waywatcher won't do any damage at all if he misses. For example, a Troll slayer attacking a T:4, Soak:2, Def 2, WS trained target with an ACE budget of 6/4/2 and 18 wounds (a proper boss monster for a starting group I think). The Troll slayer has WS training (once), correct specialization, STR 5 and is one up in Reckless stance (first round of combat).

As a GM in this situation I know that my monster is in for a world of hurt if the slayer hits with 2 successes using his Double strike. I will then make my best effort to ensure that the player misses his first attack. I will use Parry and add 2 misfortune from the ACE pool. Resulting pool:

4 char, 1 reckless, 1 exp, 1 (specialization)+1 (fortune) fortune 

1 challenge, 7 misfortune (1 from action, 2 from defence, 2 from Parry and 2 from Aggression)

The mean rate of success is (using http://laakmann.free.fr/wfrp/): ~57% and 2 successes is around 30-40% (3 successes is at 21%, the web app does not give a number for 2). The Troll slayer will not be able to hit consistently. If the GM is really mean he will also introduce a rally step when the boss goes below a certain wound threshold. ACE resets at Rally step, so the boss will be hard to hit again.

That said, if you have a group where more than two of the characters are combat focused (and/or more than 3 players), you're going to have to change the encounters by quite a bit to get a proper challenge. A single monster will not be a good way to go in most cases, just due to the good old problem of action inbalance. A good read about how to do boss monsters properly can be found here: http://angrydm.com/2...ht-part-1/ (for DnD, but design-wise I think it's spot on also for WFRP, even the act structure is used there).

AM_Odin, great that you got the fight to work!

 



#20 dvang

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 07:23 AM

It's interesting that you are "complaining" (in a loose sense) about both being able to do too much damage AND being able to resist too much damage.

If your boss is too "weak", straight off the card, for your buffed up group of PCs, then give that Rat Ogre boss platemail with 5 soak. Give him more Wounds. Give him a bigger A/C/E budget. Give him advanced Dodge/Parry/Block. Etc.

If your Boss/creatures are having trouble dealing damage to the group's Ironbreaker, give them beefier attack actions.  Trollfeller-strike. Double Attack. Etc. Give the boss a Greatweapon.  Make their weapon exceptional quality for the +1 fortune. Give them an extra training in WS.  Etc.

Or, just have the enemies ignore the Ironbreaker and attack the less armored PCs, as they realize the futility of trying to smack around the heavily armored dwarf.

Alternately, send a mob of gretchin/goblins/rats/etc against the ironbreaker instead of bigger guys. Each hit does a minimum of 1 Wound. So, attack the ironbreaker with 10 goblins/rats. Thats 10 wounds in a single turn (assuming you don't use henchmen rules for them), despite the gromril armor. 

Include/add some Orc archers with their own Rapid Fire, to shoot back at that Waywatcher.

As mentioned, the GM really needs to be aware of his group and how powerful in combat they are (or aren't).  If your group has some powerful combat PCs, you need to be prepared for them.

There really is no need to alter actual game rules to deal with these situations.






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