Friday, October 22, 2010

Fields of Battle: Fight Challenges

The Skirmish rules could also be used for mass battles, either with heroes fighting against overwhelming numbers or with players controlling small units attempting to capture a large field of battle. I call these Fight Challenges.

The idea is to use the mechanics of Skill Challenge to achieve tactical/story victory, causing a route or capturing a prize. Slaying foes would of course yield success, but the Fight Challenge opens up skill use as well.

Failure may come simply from players dying or taking enough damage to flee the scene, or, for a larger battle when a certain fraction of their forces have been defeated.

Alternately, a round limit to the battle could be imposed. For example, if they are not pushed back, hacked, blasted and intimidated in 10 rounds, the Rats of Nim overwhelm the castle walls.

Nuts and Bolts
  • Skirmish rules for gridless combat, simplified initiative, and damage (At-Will, Encounter, and Daily powers do 1, 2, and 3 Hits respectively.
  • Hits per Success: This may vary with larger battles, but let's begin with 5 Hits per success. This encourages use of Dailies and Healing Surges to finish the battle quickly.
  • Skill Checks for Success: Using story appropriate skills contribute success. Skill Checks are a minor action in the Fight Challenge to encourage their use and speed resolution.
  • Opponents use standard Minion stats, damaging PCs normally.

Siege at the Red Dragon Inn
Perhaps the players are holed up in an in with a thieves guild up going to war against them, attempting to set the inn on fire. They rush the front door, they come in through the roof and from the basement. The Siege at the Red Dragon Inn could be played as a Complexity 5 Fight Challenge, needing 12 successes to win the encounter before the inn catches on fire and is over run, in 5 rounds.

First, using the Skirmish rules presented in the previous post, the Thugs will be 1 Hit minions, and Lieutenants have 3 Hits.

Every 5 thugs defeated equals a success. Defeating a lieutenant is one success. A successful skill check garners a success as well. However, characters may not use the same skill two rounds in a row.

Players are encouraged to embellish their turns with Skill Checks as Minor Actions, in fact they will need to do so in order to complete the challenge in time.
  • Intimidate and Bluff to encourage defections in the ranks and hurt morale. Moderate DC
  • Stealth to get the drop on someone, to get away or wait it out. Easy DC
  • Acrobatics swing for chandeliers to get to a lieutenant. Hard DC (Defeating a lieutenant is a success in itself.)
  • Streetwise for dirty tactics such as knocking down chandeliers & throwing bottles of liquor. Easy DC
  • Athletics to battle through the crowd or flip tables. Moderate DC
  • Arcana and Nature to put out fires. Hard DC
Failure would of course occur if the heroes decide to retreat, or, if they are not victorious in 5 rounds the Inn is burning, so destroyed that it is not worth saving, and they are more or less taken prisoner.

Here we have a dynamic way to run a very nebulous and complicated encounter with real consequences for the players and the story, a tasteful melange of abstract roleplaying and tactical combat.

Have fun storming the castle!