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Glimnir

Disengaging

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 Hello.

I know this topic had been discussed before in other threads, but I'd like to see if there's anything I've missed. Please correct me if I'm wrong on the following:

1- The rules state that you need only perform one manoeuvre to safely disengage.

2- The "otherwise they may be attacked" part is just fluff. You simply can't disengage without performing that manoeuvre.

3- You do not need to perform the disengage manoeuvre to disengage from an engagement consisting only of friends and allies characters, but you do need to perform an engage manoeuvre to engage a friendly character within close range.

4- It costs only a total of 1 manoeuvre to disengage from an engagement with any number of enemies.

5- Once disengaged you end up within close range, presumably right next to your enemy (or enemies), but still need to perform an additional manoeuvre to move anywhere else within close range.

6- Once disengaged, you can use any ranged attack or spell action card normally as not engaged, even though you were engaged at the start of your turn.

Is that correct?

If it is, it seems that will create a lot of "step-back-and-fire" situations that I think are pretty stupid roleplaying-wise. Even with cards that say you can't be engaged to use them, you'll probably be able to perform that disengage manoeuvre at no cost 90% of the time (unless you are affected by some condition that hinders or prevents it, but those are rare).

That means a crossbowman who gets engaged and attacked by 3 beastmen could simply step back (free), load his crossbow (1 fatigue) and shoot a beastman. Meanwhile, the beastman just stand there looking at him dumbfounded, thinking about how stupid that rule is! ; )

I'm being a bit harsh, I know, but still, the whole idea of being in an engagement is that everyone moves around but they are all matching each other's movement. That means you can't simply step back, even a few paces, without having your opponents do the same and keep you from reloading that crossbow!

I was tempted to make all cards with the "not engaged with enemy" requirement unavailable if you start your turn as engaged, and actions which add to difficulty while engaged (as some spells do) keep doing so under the same circumstances. Seems like an easy fix, but it sort of contradicts the melee cards which stated "must be engaged", and do not require you to be engaged at the start of your turn, and it doesn't really solve the problem of it being too easy to disengage without being followed in the first place. So, here are a couple ideas I had:

- If my points 1, 3 and 5 or correct, then one could interpret the rule (without changing it) as disengaging from a hostile engagement as a movement manoeuvre that costs an additional manoeuvre to safely disengage. You see, the rules state that you don't have to make the disengage manoeuvre to disengage from allies, but you would still have to make a movement manoeuvre to move anywhere else within close range. Hence, if you don't perform a movement manoeuvre, you still are engaged, no? Otherwise, if you can disengage from them without a manoeuvre, why would you need to perform on to re-engage with them?

So, while you have to perform the disengage manoeuvre to disengage from hostiles safely you are still not going anywhere unless you also perform a movement manoeuvre. That means that disengaging actually requires a movement manoeuvre AND a disengage manoeuvre, so it will (usually, unless special talents or abilities come into play) cost at least 1 fatigue for a character to move far away enough from an engagement to be able to do something safely. If doesn't really prevent step-back-and-fire actions, but at least there is a fatigue penalty to disengaging from hostiles.

- As for point 4 (multiple enemies), I agree with some here that the purposely open rules design certainly allow the GM to determine that disengaging from a certain number of opponents, depending on the circumstances, could warrant an opposed Coordination, Athletics or Weapon Skill test, or even require the Perform a Stunt action as well.

- Now, I think that this rules call by the GM could also be made if the player wishes to take an action that would normally be very difficult to do if you were first engaged with an opponent. Take my crossbowman example. The GM could state that since he is trying to reload his crossbow while disengaging and still have enough time to turn around and shoot before the beastmen catch up to him, the crossbowman's player will have to make a coordination test (with the dodge specialisation (you see, that spec can actually be useful!)) opposed to the beastmen's weapon skill or athletics (both being stength anyways) representing there efforts to catch up to him and hew him down. The DM also adds 2 misfortune dice because there are 3 beastmen (1 beastman +2 allies) and an extra misfortune by spending an aggression dice (they really don't want him to get off that shot).

If the test is successful, the character makes his attack as normal, but banes could generate misfortune dice on his attack. If unsuccesful, boons could say that he managed to move away safely, can't pull of the shot in time. Banes, or chaos stars, could mean he doesn't get away after all, or worse.

So, how do you handle this?

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I can see where someone pulling the "step back and fire" trick could strain suspension of disbelief. Other than that, I don't think it's a real rules issue.  Ever since watching the Fellowship of the Ring, I haven't particularly had a problem with skilled archer / heroic PC firing a bow in melee, (or in the case of WHFRP, stepping back and firing). Obviously, though, it's an issue for you and your group, so I'll try and help.

Due to how fast melee soldiers can close the gap, the ability to step back and fire functions well to balance melee and ranged combat. Melee takes a fatigue toll in the first round or two as you close with the enemy, depending on distance apart when the fight broke out. Once you've closed the gap, the burden falls on the ranged combat master, who has to keep moving back in order to take a shot. As you indicated, someone with a crossbow can keep it up for a few turns in a row, but eventually the fatigue will get to them. I'd be hesitant to rule against the step-back-and-fire entirely, as then melee characters would find it very beneficial to suck up fatigue closing ground at the start of the fight.

I'd say the problem has more to do with the specifics of a crossbow or black powder weapon. Those are the ones where it really strains credibility to believe you can reload and fire again while people are trying to hack at you. Even then, given the way Hollywood presents such weapons, they rarely have any reload time, either. Realism vs Playability is a sliding scale, and not everyone adjusts it to the same setting.

  • Maybe making those weapons take 2 manoeuvres to reload would be in order?

The freedom of movement (and ability to disengage easily) has more ripple effects than just allowing archers to avoid ever drawing a melee weapon. It also allows Scribes, Students, Agitators, Wizards, Dilletantes, Messengers, etc, to get out of the fight, take cover behind terrain, flee, etc. So I'd be somewhat wary of increasing the disengage costs, as it would tend to make the squishier characters die that much faster.

  • If you were to add an extra cost for disengaging, I'd consider making it be payable in either Stress or Fatigue, at the acting player's choosing. That way, the soft-skinned social characters don't get fatigued into unconsciousness right away, they can instead choose to spread it out, or put it into stress if their mental traits are better.

Of course, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. The warrior-types will be able to eat up an extra point or two of it as stress as well, so it's not a perfect solution.

  • Yet a third solution might be to just make some new action card(s) that gives a bonus to attacks vs an engaged foe wielding a ranged weapon. An attack that damages their bow, or an attack that gives you an extra defense against their next ranged shot, or an attack that adds fatigue to the damage to wear down the retreating crossbowman faster.

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 I wonder why Hollywood has become the benchmark everyone uses ?

Hollywood has a very unrealistic way of presenting combat, and IMO creates very sweet fast food suspense, nothing really that thrilling.

It's all fireworks but no tension. When characters can run around doing anything, just because they are heroes, then the outcome of the fights becomes very predictable and anticlimactic. The only logic that remains is the what the storyteller wants to make happen will happen, no matter what.

For RPG players, being able to assume the physical and psychological rules of the RW also apply more or less to the fantasy world gives them the power to create tactics that are grounded in reality and see them pay off, as opposed to min/maxing rules algorithms to death.

Being able to back off, reload a crossbow and fire while the opponent just stares at you is an aberration caused by a turn based system. Its a problem common to all turn based RPGs (all of them ?). I think the GM must think out of the box here. Maybe ask for a Coordination test to cover reloading while moving ? Or even better, ask the player to describe how he will manage to move away and reload without becoming Exposed in the process. Then use the Perform a Stunt card to resolve the action.

Maybe Disengaging from Melee should be considered an Action in its own right ? Either covered by the Guarded position action card or the Perform a Stunt action card if the player wants to disengage for some other reason than purely defensive ones ?

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So the battle would be a walking withdrawn fight.

Ranged character steps back, reloads (either uses fatigue or gains a challenge dice) then shoots

Attackers move up - hit him

Repeat...

I don't see what the problem with that is other then the debate over reloading a crossbow.  So the argument in this case isn't over the disengage actions it's over the reload action, which is still a fair criticism.  If you want to make things more punishing make the reload action cost 2 maneuvers to do or add 2 challenge dice.  I say punishing because we still aren't at the point of realistic.  Reloading a crossbow or blunderbuss takes time, more time then they'd have in the space of an action.  If you want to go for more realism I'd suggest changing it so that the reload manoeuver requires a characters action for the turn.  So that they'd only be able to fire a weapon like that every other turn instead.

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Kryyst said:

I don't see what the problem with that is other then the debate over reloading a crossbow.  So the argument in this case isn't over the disengage actions it's over the reload action, which is still a fair criticism.  If you want to make things more punishing make the reload action cost 2 maneuvers to do or add 2 challenge dice.  I say punishing because we still aren't at the point of realistic.  Reloading a crossbow or blunderbuss takes time, more time then they'd have in the space of an action.  If you want to go for more realism I'd suggest changing it so that the reload manoeuver requires a characters action for the turn.  So that they'd only be able to fire a weapon like that every other turn instead.

 

Yeah ... I just bought the game a few days ago and am on my first read-through.  I swore that I must have been interpreting something incorrectly when the RAW seemed to imply that you could load AND fire a pistol in the same round.   I am gonna have to house rule this in some way.  This seems way over the top for Warhammer. 

 

Is there anyone who can offer a defense (valid or not) as to why any GM should let the players use pistols and crossbows with the reload times as written in the rules?  I mean, surely there were play testers who might have offered up some criticism and then been convinced that an extremely quick reload was better for the game?

 

-smythe

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smythe said:

Is there anyone who can offer a defense (valid or not) as to why any GM should let the players use pistols and crossbows with the reload times as written in the rules?

Because if you gimp those things further, everyone will just use bows, and crossbows and pistols might as well not exist?

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For what it's worth

According to some historical text a trained soldier could reload a musket in about 15 seconds and a flint lock in about 30.  But that's not while your moving and having a charging line a few paces away from you.  Time wise though it'd work out to about every other action under ideal conditions.  Crossbows would be about the same if it's got a hand pull, crank would be longer. 

I think mechanically things were done to allow players to use weapons because they want to, to fit a character view.  Other then breaking realism what's the difference if a character is stepping back and burning fatigue to fire a gun/crossbow or just stepping back and throwing an axe/shooting an arrow at no fatigue cost.  Realistic no, mechanically the reload weapons will burn a character out fast at this rate, so it's not like it's something they can do for 10 rounds of combat.  Cinematically it's pretty cool.

The other side of all of this is if you are picking on this as being unrealistic (which it is) then you need to start looking at all other aspects of the game as well.  You've got the dwarf trollslayer charging a 7' troll while the Bright Mage is hurling fireballs at the goblin horde they you cry WOAH!!!! when the outlaw steps back and fires his pistol in the same round.

 

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Hmmm ... I cross posted this over at Strike-to-stun and I'm getting the same sort of answers.  Mayhaps I'll run with the RAW and see how it all works out.  I am just very used to WFRPv2 where you'd fire your pistol (or pistols), 'em, and wade into combat.  I liked that imagery a lot, so much so that I made pistols a lot cheaper to buy.  I know, I know ... new game, new rules.  Still working through the adjustment period.

 

Thanks for all your responses, btw.

 

-smythe

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smythe said:

I am just very used to WFRPv2 where you'd fire your pistol (or pistols), 'em, and wade into combat.

 

That was supposed to say "fire your pistols, DROP 'em, and wade into combat.".

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 Thanks for all the responses.

I used the crossbowman example because I thought it was a pretty obvious example, but I could have chosen something else, like shooting a bow. Also, while I do agree the single manoeuvre reload seems way too easy for me (you actually don't even NEED to perform the manoeuvre, read the weapon descriptions), I was really addressing the fact that stepping back in order to perform actions which require you not to be engaged really makes the "not be engaged" requirement fairly unimportant, as you can simply choose "not to be engaged" every round anyways, no matter who engaged you before your turn.

After some consideration, and reading the rules again, I think no rules change is actually necessary, and that's because of the mechanics design of the system, which are pretty open to interpretation and ruling by the GM.

The solution is simply to ask for a relevant Skill check for the disengage manoeuvre, the same as you can always ask for any movement manoeuvre. You can also require the Perform a Stunt action for a particularly daring disengage manoeuvre.

See, when your character moves from medium to long range in a grassy plain, during the day, and with no enemies present, you won't call for a skill check, and the action automatically works. However, if your character is moving from medium to long range in a swamp, at night, in a middle of a fight, you'll probably call for a test (Athletics, for example). The same should be true for disengaging.

Let's say you disengage from a single opponent and make a run for it, you could rule that no check is warranted (the character simply uses an opening to turn tail and run (1 manoeuvre to disengage, plus others to move away), and the opponent can pursue normally). Also, if you and 2 allies are in an engagement with 2 foes, the GM would probably allow you to just step back from the engagement with no check, because while you must still use an opening and avoid an attack (1 manoeuvre), foes may be to busy to hinder your escape.

However, when my aforementioned crossbowman attempts to disengage from his 3 beastmen attackers (who have no reason not to follow him at every step), then you ask for a test. Same is true if you're surrounded, or in difficult terrain and have obstacles around you. As with other manoeuvres, simply performing the manoeuvre is not a garantee that it will work!

Also, if you are surrounded by enemies, the GM might even say its not possible to disengage without using the Perform a Stunt manoeuvre, which means you actually force your way through with brute force and speed (athletics), fight your way through and opening (Weapon Skill) or somersault over enemies (Coordination).

Finally, if the action succeeds, banes and boons can provide insight into how good your positioning now is, and which actions you can then attempt. If you fail, you are still engaged (while you possibly did move away, your opponents matched your move, something which, again, is a lot easier (and more realistic) to represent with the relative range mechanics)

I'll be trying this in my upcoming game, and we'll see how it goes.

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Regarding reload times (and forgive me if this has been mentioned in a previous post), there is no set round/turn duration in this edition.  I'd agree that if the game were using the standard 3-5 second turn, reloading and firing in the same round would seem unrealistic. 

In my own game, turn length has been fairly fluid depending on what's happening.  We haven't felt the need to strictly define it, but I'd estimate most of our combat turns last about 30 seconds or so.  This allows a more realistic feeling (in our opinion) for what can be accomplished in a round, using manoeuvres to change position, prepare and reload weapons, etc.  Understand too, that something like a basic Melee Attack isn't just one swing, but a series of feints and thrusts, possible parries, etc, culminating in a landing blow.  Clearly this method isn't for everyone, but we're having a lot of fun playing it this way.

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cronevald said:

 

Regarding reload times (and forgive me if this has been mentioned in a previous post), there is no set round/turn duration in this edition.  I'd agree that if the game were using the standard 3-5 second turn, reloading and firing in the same round would seem unrealistic. 

In my own game, turn length has been fairly fluid depending on what's happening.  We haven't felt the need to strictly define it, but I'd estimate most of our combat turns last about 30 seconds or so.  This allows a more realistic feeling (in our opinion) for what can be accomplished in a round, using manoeuvres to change position, prepare and reload weapons, etc.  Understand too, that something like a basic Melee Attack isn't just one swing, but a series of feints and thrusts, possible parries, etc, culminating in a landing blow.  Clearly this method isn't for everyone, but we're having a lot of fun playing it this way.

 

 

This post is right on the mark. The 3e combat system is a lot more abstract than many other game systems, certainly more than wfrp 2ed. If you try to play 3e as a simulationist excercise you'll get loads of problematic things cropping up all the time. Just quit worrying about all the details and enjoy the ride ;).

That said, I like your idea Glimnir, requiring skill checks for harder disengages feels like a good compromise.

Note that using a move away, reload, fire crossbow sequence will not work for long, you'll become fatigued in notime. If you're a dedicated ranged combatant, bows is what you should use. Crossbows and blackpowder weapons are really fire once (or ok maybe twice) and forget weapons (as you want them to be smythe).

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I don't see the issue here.  Disengage is a manoeuvre.  That's one free.  Crossbows have 'slow' reload and require a "reload manoeuvre".  That's two and one fatigue. Then you can use your action to attack.   It won't be long before they start getting misfortune dice.  Throw in some difficulty dice for the disengage/fire tactic and it should prove to be quite the challenge. 

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r_b_bergstrom said:

  • Yet a third solution might be to just make some new action card(s) that gives a bonus to attacks vs an engaged foe wielding a ranged weapon. An attack that damages their bow, or an attack that gives you an extra defense against their next ranged shot, or an attack that adds fatigue to the damage to wear down the retreating crossbowman faster.

This gives me an idea for a much simpler solution: attacking someone who doesn't have a melee weapon to defend himself with is much easier than trying to hit someone who tries to put a piece of sharp steel into you. So give anyone attacking an archer 1 extra fortune (or give the archer 1 less defense?). Similarly, you could give the archer 1 misfortune if he started the turn in an engagement.

It's not too crippling, nobody gets hosed, it's perfectly according to the rules, and yet it encourages archers to keep a bit more distance, or their bow and use a hand weapon.

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Juriel said:

smythe said:

 

Is there anyone who can offer a defense (valid or not) as to why any GM should let the players use pistols and crossbows with the reload times as written in the rules?

 

 

Because if you gimp those things further, everyone will just use bows, and crossbows and pistols might as well not exist?

Then the problem is that bows are too powerful or too easy to use. Historically, crossbows and fire arms are relatively easy weapons to use, or at least easy to hit someone with. Using a bow accurately requires more training. So give a bow some extra difficulty. Or require a single reload maneuver, of course.

Personally I think crossbows are much more Warhammer than bows anyway, so I don't mind nerfing bows a bit.

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smythe said:

smythe said:

 

I am just very used to WFRPv2 where you'd fire your pistol (or pistols), 'em, and wade into combat.

 

 

That was supposed to say "fire your pistols, DROP 'em, and wade into combat.".

The standard practice for Early musket use was to fire until the enemy closed and then turn the thing round and use it as a club.
Alternatively they would the musket and draw a side arm if they had one.
The only change made right up until modern times was the addition of the bayonet to make it a spear rather than a club.

I would house rule that you need an unhindered actions for reloading - so would need to expend a lot of fatigue to outpace your opponet enough to get time to reload. Unhindered meaning not being meleed so you could be in a fight and reload if no one actually attacks.  Butin return I would  to allow them to use the musket as a club - part of the musket training so no extra skill points needed for it.
Pistols too were fired and then flipped round and used as as 1 hand clubs. Although generally those that used pistols would tend to have a sidearm as well. 
(And for added fun - Chaos star when melleing with a firearm and they damage the weapon preventing it firing until fixed)

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 In a game a few weeks ago the disengage 'rule' caused me a few head aches.

Two PCs entered a room where the boss was with one of his goons... so they of course attacked. Well, the boss legged it while the goon, sacrificed himself by engaging the characters and delaying them long enough so Boss could get away.

Except, come the players turn, they simply disengaged from the Goon and gave chase, running the boss down - leaving the goon standing and scratching his head wondering why his heroic gesture failed.

I know they had to pay fatigue etc to catch the Boss, but as the rules are written there is no way of doing a  fighting retreat, or a making sacrifice like this  to save others. The foe just thumb their noses at you and off they go....

So, I am considering a few options - the front runner at the moment being that if someone 'plays' guarded stance then they can not be moved around in the above manner...

I'm open to other suggestions.

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Munchkin said:

 In a game a few weeks ago the disengage 'rule' caused me a few head aches.

Two PCs entered a room where the boss was with one of his goons... so they of course attacked. Well, the boss legged it while the goon, sacrificed himself by engaging the characters and delaying them long enough so Boss could get away.

Except, come the players turn, they simply disengaged from the Goon and gave chase, running the boss down - leaving the goon standing and scratching his head wondering why his heroic gesture failed.

I know they had to pay fatigue etc to catch the Boss, but as the rules are written there is no way of doing a  fighting retreat, or a making sacrifice like this  to save others. The foe just thumb their noses at you and off they go....

So, I am considering a few options - the front runner at the moment being that if someone 'plays' guarded stance then they can not be moved around in the above manner...

I'm open to other suggestions.

I actually like that the players can pay the fatigue to do stuff like this.  One rule I hated in D&D 4e was the rules for trying to disengage from a fighter and the AO's that came with it.  If as a GM making sure the players couldn't bypass that NPC was important to the story I would have had him pulling bookcases over or something like that to block their path, make them pass an agility test to scamper over the debris.

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 It all happened so fast that the goon didn't have a chance to do that, he had to move to engage the characters (who were standing close enough together that he could engage both). He was huge hulking goon, who was not very bright. He engaged and attacked. The players just skirted around him,  and through the doorway he was in effect blocking - one chased the boss the other closed and locked the door.

Ok, it cost them fatigue. But in this case it just didn't seem right, and takes away a strategic option (for players and npcs alike).

 

What I have been considering is if someone disengages, the other combatant can choose to spend a fatigue point and move to keep engaged. They both can then keep paying fatigue to try and disengage/reengage until the disengagement attempts stop. This would portray the strategic movement and countermovement in combat well, and give a chance for holding up advances/chasers etc....

It would also make the free disengage results from some cards more useful (as I wouldn't allow an option to reengage in this case).

Just a thought.

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Honestly it sounds like your trying to penalize your players smart thinking.  Let them have their win and just plan your NPC better next time.  Especially the way your describing the mob as a big dumb good, sounds like they handled it perfectly.

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 That's the point though -there was no smart thinking, no good planning, no description, no roleplaying. It was simply "we disengage and chase the Boss."

Maybe you're right, maybe I'm overreacting.

Having experienced combat through martial arts and fencing I know how difficult it is to try to disengage from someone who's wanting to continue the fight. Maybe I'm letting this colour my thinking... maybe I'm leaning to far towards realism rather than playability...

 

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Munchkin said:

 

 That's the point though -there was no smart thinking, no good planning, no description, no roleplaying. It was simply "we disengage and chase the Boss."

Maybe you're right, maybe I'm overreacting.

Having experienced combat through martial arts and fencing I know how difficult it is to try to disengage from someone who's wanting to continue the fight. Maybe I'm letting this colour my thinking... maybe I'm leaning to far towards realism rather than playability...

 

 

 

Honestly I don't think it is any of that. Sounds like a good GM just trying to get a grasp on the system.  I have had stuff similar to this happen in my game as well.  Last adventure they got the BBEG and 6 of his boys (full hostiles not henchmen) cornered in a small room and took turns blocking a narrow path and dropping back and slaughtered the hostiles.  That was a really really tough fight and one PC did get knocked out but it should have been a TPK.  Now don't get me wrong I like my party surviving and didn't want a TPK but had they not had that narrow hallway it would have been.

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Using that example Ill give another example about good role play.  They got lucky using the hallway.  Had they been smart they would have dropped further back in the hallway so only 2 NPCs could engage the 2 blocking instead of 4 and one at range.  Had they been smart and role played, they could have said something like ( I back up far enough going up the steps of the hallway that the guy shooting magic pain and misery at me can no longer see me),  that would have dropped them down from 5 hostiles at once per round to two.

Some people may say that's good tactics not role play.  But actually visualizing your surroundings and being smart enough to realize that "this roof curves up  since we are on stairs" to me is good role play, after that the tactics are common sense.

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In The Gathering Storm there is one fight where the authors just state that an NPC is blocking a door in such a way that no one can pass and he can only be engaged by two players. The clear assumption is that he more or less automatically is able to keep this door blocked and the action can unfold based on this assumption (there is another bad guy standing behind the blocker and doing evil stuff, of course). So it seems as if FFG is perfectly content with GMs just stating: this guy blocks the door and that's it. No talk about disengagement routines, fatigue etc. I found this kind of nice because it emphasizes the tack that FFG seem to take with the whole of WFRP 3ed: it is all about good storytelling, not about detailed combat rules for situations that could be better resolved in a narrative way.

Seen from this light, I would just tell your players that XY escapes, if you want him too. If the players come up with some really good roleplay and maybe have a lucky throw of dice then you should of course still allow them to catch XY. But just arguing with rules about fatigue and disengagement seems to go against the spirit of the system here.

There are quite a few threads on running, running away, disengaging and things like that, where people struggle with how to deal with these situations in a satisfactory way. The abstract range & movement system combined with fatigue for PCs/Nemeses and wounds for NPCs/Monsters doesn't work very well in these situations when it is applied in a technical manner. Therefore I would really recommend sticking to the strength of WFRP 3ed in these situations: use the abstract stuff as an encouragement to come up with a more narrative solution out of the situation instead of a technical one. Maybe add a rally step and then resolve these kinds of chase situations using a progress tracker, where you can reward good roleplay with fortune dice on skill throws etc.

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