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  • Combat Woes

    A player today complained that combat runs slowly. We're all new to the system (session 3 just ended) so that may be part of it, but familiarity will only speed it up so much.

    How do you balance this?

    I was wondering about occasionally running combat as an advanced test. They could add their weapon damage to their roll to meet the TN. Mages could maybe spend mana to increase their Dragon Die result up to 6. Two mana per pip?

    I can also arrange to have fewer, more important encounters. I made a partial thaig and in it were only two certain encounters and two possible. They hit all four so the entire session was basically combat nonstop, which might be contributing to the player's complaint.

    I just figured I'd bring the concerns here for thoughts.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Re: Combat Woes

    Different playing groups can certainly have different playing styles - some prefer combat, other prefer roleplay of investigation. Certainly, the maximum number of combat I have in a session is one big one (usually a finale) and a couple of smaller ones. One thing you could do is introduce the 'minion' rules from the FA Companion - these bring in the 'critter' type foes from Dragon Age 2 computer game, that can be quickly overcome with the spending of some stunt points. For secondary combat encounters, they really speed things up.

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    • #3
      Re: Combat Woes

      I increased damage (and all dice pools) to d10, while keeping HP the same. Another thing I did was change mook SP:

      1-3 SP -- Mighty Blow
      4-5 SP -- Lethal Blow
      6 SP -- Mighty & Lethal Blow

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      • #4
        Re: Combat Woes

        My group ended up lowering all Armor ratings, and the health pools of players.
        The Untouchable, the Avenger.

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        • #5
          Re: Combat Woes

          Getting used to the combat pacing has been tricky. I have a small group with three players so gauging what combat encounter they can handle and presenting it in a fun way is tough. I threw three Genlocks at them (they're level 4) and wound up cutting their HP in half, their armor by 2. Everyone took damage, everyone felt challenged, resources were expended and it didn't feel like it was a speed bump, bailing them out, or a waste of anyone's time.

          What I can do for my group is try to draft alternative combat goals. Before planning a fight, I ask, what is the point of the fight and if it's just to have a combat encounter, like the genlock fight above, maybe cut it back. If there an objective other than "reduce all foe HP to zero" that will give the PCs something to do other than blasting each other side by side.

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          • #6
            Re: Combat Woes

            My players got very good at utilizing Telekinetic Weapons to boost their damage to the stars, so I had to work to keep up with damage output from the PCs. More damage from the players makes them feel heroic and makes combats go a little faster, and throwin some nasty damage their way can keep them guessing.

            I actually had to make my Spirt Healer a unique magic item to improve the amount she was healing, because it wasn’t keeping up with the damage the NPCs were putting out.

            It helps if you have access to the PCs’ character sheets to make some educated guesses, or just to jot down their average damage and Defense scores.
            If you like the Dragon Age RPG, please consider listening to my podcast:[URL="https://wondersofthedaspodcast.wordpress.com/"] The Wonders of Thedas[/URL]! We discuss classes, backgrounds, GMing techniques, specializations, play styles, and much more!
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            • #7
              Re: Combat Woes

              Thank you, this all helps.

              I've been adjusting the HP and armor ratings since the start after a very nearly disastrous encounter with a bear during character creation. I'm still working out the correct balance, though.

              (Note: I met with each player individually to create their characters. Then, after they had a level one character, I picked something from what they'd decided so far for backstory and framed a quick encounter around that just to get them used to the dice mechanics. This was also a chance for me to get used to running Dragon Age. Then, I leveled each person up to level 2 and introduced them to the leveling process).

              I also need to get better at ensuring alternative combat objectives. I've done it, but not consistently.

              It is also becoming increasingly clear that I need to grab the FA Companion.

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              • #8
                Re: Combat Woes

                One of the biggest failings of the DA rulebook, I think, is the lack of any sort of "mook" rule. In any sort of hp-based rpg at this point, the idea of having small, 'disposable' enemies to fill out a horde of enemies is pretty much a staple. Even in the video games (especially DA2 and DAI), we see 'degrees' of enemies, with mooks, standard, elites, and lieutenants.

                A way I've gotten around this? For mooks, keep the Armor Values and the Defense as is. However, reduce their hp to a flat 10. Players will still get the full feel of a penetrating blow with lots of stunt points, taking out minions in one go, while the minions still have all the offensive power as their full-on forebears.

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                • #9
                  Re: Combat Woes

                  Originally posted by liszante View Post
                  I also need to get better at ensuring alternative combat objectives. I've done it, but not consistently.
                  Not only that, but every encounter has to have a dramatic question. Once that question is answered, it either shifts to a new question, or the encounter should end.

                  Why was the party a bear? For their survival? Or to get past it? If it's a hungry, rabid bear then yeah they might have to kill it. But if it's just to get past it, then they don't need to kill it. Reducing it to half HP might scare it off (or some other tactic).

                  Likewise, if a group of assassins attacks the party. If the dramatic question is whether the party survives, then instead of mopping up, once the outcome is decided, surviving attackers should disperse. However, if the assassins are basically defeated, but then the question could shift to who sent the assassins, in which case the encounter could continue.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Combat Woes

                    All very good points.

                    I do try to have combats that either have a point or are a consequence of failed checks (e.g., triggering the trap you don't understand on purpose calls deepstalkers)--and I try to keep the latter rare. I run more con-games than campaigns, so I understand needing to make every moment count. But we're also playing 3 hour games and the fights were taking up large chunks of that time. One player is making herself a stunt cheat-sheet that tells her which stunts to use depending on how many points she gets. Right now rolling doubles has a strong chance of triggering a quick table conversation about which stunts to use.

                    All that said, the most recent session ran a lot better.

                    Anyway, this thread has given a lot to think about on how to modify the adversaries and eventually the heroes to ensure the game continues to play smoothly. Thanks.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Combat Woes

                      Originally posted by liszante View Post
                      All very good points.

                      I do try to have combats that either have a point or are a consequence of failed checks (e.g., triggering the trap you don't understand on purpose calls deepstalkers)--and I try to keep the latter rare. I run more con-games than campaigns, so I understand needing to make every moment count. But we're also playing 3 hour games and the fights were taking up large chunks of that time. One player is making herself a stunt cheat-sheet that tells her which stunts to use depending on how many points she gets. Right now rolling doubles has a strong chance of triggering a quick table conversation about which stunts to use.

                      All that said, the most recent session ran a lot better.

                      Anyway, this thread has given a lot to think about on how to modify the adversaries and eventually the heroes to ensure the game continues to play smoothly. Thanks.
                      One of the best things I've found is that, while GMing, have a few common "stunt combos" in mind whenever a player rolls stunts. Being able to say to a Warrior, "You've got 3 stunt points: Pierce Armor for 2, Mighty Blow for 1 makes 3," really helps speed up the action and keep things moving.

                      While you should always let your players dictate the action of the PCs, giving those sorts of suggestions gives them a place to start thinking about what they want in a matter of seconds, not minutes. This does involve a significant degree of system mastery on your part as the GM, but by keeping a 'Swiss army knife' of stunts in your back pocket, you can really make combat run much more smoothly.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Combat Woes

                        To keep that going, I would also highly recommend to players that they look at the last entry in the FA Companion on Stunt Packages. They are just combos of stunts ready to go if the player has enough stunts to spend. They also get you thinking about other combos of your own
                        If you like the Dragon Age RPG, please consider listening to my podcast:[URL="https://wondersofthedaspodcast.wordpress.com/"] The Wonders of Thedas[/URL]! We discuss classes, backgrounds, GMing techniques, specializations, play styles, and much more!
                        You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or [URL="https://soundcloud.com/wondersofthedas"]Soundlcoud[/URL]!

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                        • #13
                          Re: Combat Woes

                          Okay. You've all convinced me. I went ahead and bought the FA Companion book. I look forward to getting and reading it for ideas and systems.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Combat Woes

                            Originally posted by Kot the Protector View Post
                            To keep that going, I would also highly recommend to players that they look at the last entry in the FA Companion on Stunt Packages. They are just combos of stunts ready to go if the player has enough stunts to spend. They also get you thinking about other combos of your own
                            Wasn't a fan of the stunt combos. They were just two existing stunts slapped together. IMO, they should have had an increased effect or a reduced cost.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Combat Woes

                              Originally posted by shonuff View Post
                              Wasn't a fan of the stunt combos. They were just two existing stunts slapped together. IMO, they should have had an increased effect or a reduced cost.
                              The Stunt Packages are meant as a tool of convenience, and not a new rule set.

                              Jack Norris and the other folks who wrote them made them after observing play and seeing new players freeze up when they had a huge pool of SP to spend and the Pacakages are meant to make this easier.

                              They also remind me that you can mix and match Stunts from more than one table.
                              If you like the Dragon Age RPG, please consider listening to my podcast:[URL="https://wondersofthedaspodcast.wordpress.com/"] The Wonders of Thedas[/URL]! We discuss classes, backgrounds, GMing techniques, specializations, play styles, and much more!
                              You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or [URL="https://soundcloud.com/wondersofthedas"]Soundlcoud[/URL]!

                              If you have a question about the Dragon Age RPG, have custom content you'd like to share with the world, or any other contribution, send a message to [email]wondersofthedaspodcast@gmail.com[/email], or through our [URL="https://www.facebook.com/wondersofthedaspodcast/"]Facebook[/URL], [URL="https://twitter.com/wothedaspodcast"]Twitter[/URL], [URL="https://plus.google.com/u/0/117394385983855213618"]Google+[/URL], or [URL="http://wonderofthedaspodcast.tumblr.com/"]Tumblr [/URL]accounts!

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