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Emirikol

Difficulty once you're at 3 yellow

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That's a really great assessment.

 

The reason our group decided to have chaos stars get cancelled out was that it simply always felt like a comedy of errors instead of grim and gritty.  Ironically, we've only lost 1 PC in the entirety of TEW using our new rule.  When I ran The Dying of the Light, we lost 5 or 6 (without the rule), but that was a lot more combat heavy campaign.  In our new campaign, it has been mostly roguish pursuits and social-control by the Nobles in the party.   As I use an incredible variety of skill checks in my game, my players are kind of forced to be well-rounded and chaos stars are like party tension meters:  They punish good play when they turn up too much.  I'm leaning towards simply invoking the "bane" of the chaos star or your ideas presented above instead.

 

jh

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Those GM moves I listed are meant to evoke the themes of old school dungeon crawling, so feel free to modify them to better reflect wfrp themes. Off the top of my head, some example moves to make on chaos stars for warhammer may be these:

Offer a great temptation

Offer a Faustian bargain

Expose the character to a mental or physical trauma

Force a sacrifice

The other thing to keep in mind is that just because a player rolls the names or chaos star doesn't mean that the bad thing is caused by their character. Maybe they roll a chaos star and see a weak teammate getting surrounded. It doesn't have to be a comedy of errors. If the badass sword master rolls a chaos star, he doesn't have to drop his sword; maybe it just causes enemies to dog pile him or try to take a hostage. Chaos stars are good to make unavoidable because they give you a chance to play dirty as the GM.

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Also, for social engagements, id recommend trying to run the actual social encounters and giving NPCs a chance to "attack". Use a progress tracker with the NPCs closer to the goal to represent greater influence they have. Also, feel free to enforce engagement limits on conversations. If a PC and NPC are engaging in a duel of wits, it doesn't make sense for other people to join in. In general, if the PCs are doing something to really force the plot along using social skills or actions, go ahead and make it into an engagement. Do things like competitive checks rather than opposed and measure "social wounds" using a progress tracker (or use the insanities from lure of power if you think it fits).

Here's some general advice for making up a social encounter on the fly:

1) a lot of times, the NPCs will be outnumbered. Mitigate this by starting them farther up the progress tracker, doing competitive checks, and putting a time limit/action limit on the PCs. An example could be players trying to convince one NPC before another shows up, possibly trying to delay the other.

2) set a goal and consequences. Have the PCs state their intent and think of what will happen if they fail. Of course, don't let them players know what will happen if they fail. They just have to risk it.

3) use the progress tracker. Avoid doing tug of war scenarios. Instead, have the pcs be racing something else on the tracker.

4) put event spaces on the tracker. At the event you can offer a hint of something else other than the first goal and then split off with more progress pieces. The players can choose to pursue their first goal or new information. As an example, maybe the bartender they're asking about another visitor drops a hint about knowing some gossip about the noble the players work for

5) throw this together any time the players are doing something plot significant against someone opposed to their goals. This includes charming someone into a favor or information, as well as intimidating them. The tracker can be a race between the NPC getting too drunk to talk, getting scared and running away screaming for guards, or catching on that he's about to slip and tell something important.

6) if the players fail, feel free to offer them a hard choice like now requiring a heavy bribe or favor.

7) don't worry about overdoing this. The game has fully supported mechanics for social conflicts and if you aren't running them in encounter mode you're missing out on a big part of the game. You can reflect the same tactics you get from combat by using action cards and also using personalities. Decide what kind of influence skills work better or worse on a character and advance the PCs more or less on the track for using those actions. Keep the tracker hidden so that the players have to guess. A good combat has uncertainty, creativity, interesting environment, and tactical decisions. You can have all of these in social encounters by encouraging roleplay, creative actions, describing social context and environmental context (eg. an office filled with papers, a noisy pub, a nobles chamber surrounded by tittering guests), and indicating to players that they can't just spam a skill over and over.

Good luck!

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Related note:  I don't allow "ganging up on someone" during social encounters in either direction.  "Look here Mr. Elf, I already told your bestie' that I wasn't interested so bugger-off!"   

 

The system doesn't handle that well, as social combat really isn't combat.  It is skill checks with a pass-fail mechanic.  The shame threshold, although a great concept to start with, really needs the progress tracker aspect you mention above.

 

jh

Edited by Emirikol

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In case someone wanted to go beyond the RAW for Social Encounter crunch.

 

The original material from the Gamemaster's Guide reads:  

Social Encounters

The most basic social encounter uses a progress tracker to indicate
how close the party is to convincing their target to undertake some
desired action. This can be as simple as a 10-space track, with
each successful social action influencing the target. Influencing
the target allows the party to advance its token one or more spaces
depending on how well they accomplish their goals and how well
they roll. Some special Social Actions may also allow a character to
influence his target. When the token reaches the end of the track,
the target gives in.
A progress track can be used to model a more complex social
encounter, as well. By adding an opposing token to race the party
down the track, the encounter gains a risk of failure (whether this
token represents the arguments of an opposing force or the limits of
the target’s patience or available time). By adding an event space to
the track, the timbre of the encounter can be shifted at the midpoint—
perhaps the baron summons his advisors and the party’s
arguments become more difficult, or perhaps a priest of Sigmar
joins the party and lends his support!
 
Just a thought on social combat if a person was inclined to supplement the combat rules:
*  Social Threshold:  9+WP
* Social Defense score: 1 black for each training in intuition or discipline.
* Social attack:  Fellowship + relevant skill (or action)
* Social damage: 5+Fellowship
* Social Soak: Willpower + GM modified (or Resist the Lure action)
* Cannot gang up with individual "attacks". Any socially trained character may add an additional white. 
 
..that is, if you REALLY wanted to do social combat ;)

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Well our PC's in the Enemy Within have just hit Rank 5 (40xp) and in last week opening round of combat my Wardancer was taken down to within 4 wounds of zero.

That's with him getting the first action, kicking off his defensive Ritual Dance and using a metric tonne of defense cards on both attacks.

The randomness of the defense dice and their general un-reliableness in actually being defensive is a bit of a running joke in our game now.

 

IIRC the first greatsword wielding assailant had an additional 12 misfortune dice added to his attack while the second had 9 misfortune and a purple.

The first one "just" hit (2 hammers aggregate) while the second hit with extra successes (no boons fortunately).

 

Anyway the upshot is that it still seems that many enemies remain a challenge at higher ranks "regardless" of how many dice you gather, expertise or otherwise.

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That's more a function of Damage output being a pretty flat for a basic hit no matter your level IMHO. A rank 5 wizard is taking just as much damage from a 2HD strike as a rank 1, the only difference is 5 wounds meaning you won't die in one hit, just 2.

In fact, you can carry that over to any non-armour wearing class. The low range of possible scores is one think I actually don't like about the system, it has the same problem that made Last Unicorn Games Star trek game so meh.

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That's more a function of Damage output being a pretty flat for a basic hit no matter your level IMHO. A rank 5 wizard is taking just as much damage from a 2HD strike as a rank 1, the only difference is 5 wounds meaning you won't die in one hit, just 2.

In fact, you can carry that over to any non-armour wearing class. The low range of possible scores is one think I actually don't like about the system, it has the same problem that made Last Unicorn Games Star trek game so meh.

I think you've misunderstood my point.

I wasn't highlighting the "damage" absorbtion potential. 

Defense does very little to reduce damage anyway.

I was highlighting the fact that even when you have a high expertise character using all of the resources at their disposal to mitigate their chance of being hit.

They are still going to get hit at some point.

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Sure they will still get hit, and yes defence is basically "hit or miss". My point was merely more an "additional point" that due to the way damage works, once you do get hit, your rank tends not to matter so much as your damage mitigation, and due to that small range of damage and mitigation, high damage creatures will always be a threat, even if the PC's outrank them. Give opponents the ability to use PC card actions and it gets even more dangerous.

 

I am curious however, how on EARTH did you manage to pull so many defensive dice?? My toon just hit rank 3 and I have got one black provided by my armour, with the possibility of an additional from the footwork talent, and my block, imp parry and dodge card!! We only have 3 players so using stuff like guarded position is problematic however as we tend not to be able to spare one of our 3 actions.

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Sure they will still get hit, and yes defence is basically "hit or miss". My point was merely more an "additional point" that due to the way damage works, once you do get hit, your rank tends not to matter so much as your damage mitigation, and due to that small range of damage and mitigation, high damage creatures will always be a threat, even if the PC's outrank them. Give opponents the ability to use PC card actions and it gets even more dangerous.

 

I am curious however, how on EARTH did you manage to pull so many defensive dice?? My toon just hit rank 3 and I have got one black provided by my armour, with the possibility of an additional from the footwork talent, and my block, imp parry and dodge card!! We only have 3 players so using stuff like guarded position is problematic however as we tend not to be able to spare one of our 3 actions.

The wardancer has a couple of actions that REALLY process defensive dice well.

admittedly 4 of the character dice come from a fan made career for higher ranks of wardancer (similair to the Troll slayer ability except we've run it as 1 soak and defense equal to 1 plus the number of completed wardancer careers,)

That aside.

It works something like this...

Parry, 2 defence dice

Shadows coil, 3 into Reckless. 3 defense dice

Weapon with the Defensive quality, 1 defense dice

Woven Mist on recharge, conservative face. +1 defense dice for each ritual dance card recharging on the reckless face. That was 2 IIRC

 

Which give 8 black dice (+4 for 12 from the career defense ability).

 

I then used cat like grace on the second defense roll - 2

Improved dodge - 1 Purple

Woven Mist now giving 3 defense due to a newly recharging shadows coil

which gave 5 defence and 1 purple (9 defense after career ability)

 

Footwork (which is perma attached to our party sheet) may have been involved as well. I cannot remember if I had procced a free manoeuvre on round 1 of the combat or not.

Edited by princeearwig

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I know people think that using player character actions is more dangerous than NPC cards, but the reality is that other than Reckless Cleave (which I think all orcs and beastmen should be using), there arent' many PC actions there that makes monsters more dangerous other than criticals.  PCs always have the option of running away ..and the GM can always have the monsters run away.

 

If you want to make monsters tougher, I recommend:

* Armor (because, exception noted in the post above, soak is everything)

* Great weapon - easy crits, higher damage

* Use all of possible ACE dice as fast as you can

* Add the Epic templates

* Don't use henchmen

 

The thing with the power escalation, is then the GM is stuck having to escalate power back and it comes down to 1-2 broken characters unbalancing the game for the other 2-3 players.  It is D&D syndrome where unless EVERYBODY is combat-broken, the person who wants to play any other type of character kind of gets screwed.

 

jh

Edited by Emirikol

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I know people think that using player character actions is more dangerous than NPC cards, but the reality is that other than Reckless Cleave (which I think all orcs and beastmen should be using), there arent' many PC actions there that makes monsters more dangerous other than criticals.  PCs always have the option of running away ..and the GM can always have the monsters run away.

 

If you want to make monsters tougher, I recommend:

* Armor (because, exception noted in the post above, soak is everything)

* Great weapon - easy crits, higher damage

* Use all of possible ACE dice as fast as you can

* Add the Epic templates

* Don't use henchmen

 

The thing with the power escalation, is then the GM is stuck having to escalate power back and it comes down to 1-2 broken characters unbalancing the game for the other 2-3 players.  It is D&D syndrome where unless EVERYBODY is combat-broken, the person who wants to play any other type of character kind of gets screwed.

 

jh

I created a Necromancer using NPC actions and some stuff of "From the Grave" for an intro scenario to allow the new priest to join the pre existing group (Going to make him a reoccuring villian - nothing says Warhammer than a Necromancer that just won't die - coincidentally he's Lazarus Mourne..).

He had 5 int, and a skull staff.

My first action was to summon some zombies to keep the PC's busy, second round was Gaze of Nagash on the priest. Wound threshold of 12 a toughness of 3 and wearing cloth. I hit for 16+ a crit: (8+int and 4 boons)luckily they had the sturdy dwarf dive in and save her to groans of "so much for a nice easy introduction!"

 

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