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16 November 2014 @ 02:06 pm
Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom combat testing: Addendum  
I had a few thoughts I didn't mention in yesterday's post where I ran through Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom combat, so I figured I'd write about them here.

  • It Really Is That Lethal - My Exalted 1e game never really had much problem with lethality, but stacked persistants in 1e meant that the complaint was more often about combat dragging on and on with no resolution, whereas 2e it was whiff whiff SPLAT. The lack of Charms here prevented combat from degenerating into Perfect spam, but it was still obvious that combat was "realistic" in the sense that wearing heavier armor is a really good strategy. The bandits were relying on their tough skin (3L/3B soak), and that meant that when they did get hit it was really painful--all of them died in only one or two hits from Goji, who had 12L base damage. Amiyumi, with 7L base damage, got a couple good hits in, but also a couple that plinked off their soak.

    On the other hand, most attacks that did hit, hit with very small margins--usually only 1 or two successes. That also implies that making a dodgy ninja would be possible, since no character here was optimized for avoidance. They'd be a glass cannon and quite possibly get taken out in a single hit, but hits would be rare.

    My characterization of "Runequest with dice pools" seems pretty accurate. Wear armor, don't just wade into battle, use positioning and strategy, and don't get hurt if you can because healing takes forever. There's a section on running RQ6 combat when healing times are so long, and I should probably read that. Thaumaturgy can help with that in Exalted, but it's still no Cure Light Wounds.

  • Raptok Are Murder Machines - Some of that is because softlykarou knew this was going to be a combat test, so she optimised Goji for fighting. It also meant that a lot of the disadvantages of raptok, like lacking dextrous hands or being unable to speak most languages, didn't come into play. Their bite does +7L, which is much as a post-Scroll of Errata two-handed great axe, and they've got that ranged clinch.

    Also, I just realized that Goji had orichalcum hearthstone bracers. We remembered the +3 to Dodge pool, but forgot the +2 to raw damage. That would have made her even more killy.

  • Knockdown and Stunning Aren't Super Dangerous - I can see why a lot of people ignore these rules, especially playing the Exalted. There was some chance here that the bandits would have suffered from the effects, since they had 3 dice to resist Stunning and 6 dice to resist Knockback, but they made all their rolls. Goji and Amiyumi never took more than one Health Level of damage at a time, so they were never subject to these effects.

  • Coordinating Attacks Would Have Helped - Coordinating attacks requires a Charisma + War roll and then reduces the target's DV by the number of successes on that roll. If I had remembered about that rule, that might have been a lifesaver for the bandits, who mostly fought as an individual disorganized mob and paid the price for it. They don't have the War skill (as befits a disorganized mob), but since most attacks hit or missed by one or two successes, even reducing the DV by one would have helped the bandits land more hits. As it was, Goji had all her -0 Health Levels full by the end, so a few more hits would have started wound penalties.

  • I Need Morale Rules - I didn't appreciate how great OSR D&D games' morale rules were for a long time, but nowadays I think they do a lot to make combat less grinding. And especially in a system where getting injured, with the attendant bleeding, long healing times, and wound infection, is so terrible, beating the enemy without having to fight them would be great. I just used Valor rolls, but I should have some system for when the Valor rolls are required and how they get more difficult. For example, the very first attack made in the battle was Goji grappling a bandit with her tongue and then biting them in half. That should have required morale rolls for the other bandits. AD&D 2e calls for rolls in situations like "when surprised," "25% of their group has fallen, "ally slain by magic," "50% of the group fallen," "offered surrender or a bribe," and so on. Those seem like good guidelines. There's a chart on page 156 of Exalted, but it's pretty vague--what does "Enemy of slightly superior combat strength" mean, exactly?

    And as in D&D, morale helps provide a niche for the walking dead, who automatically succeed at all Valor rolls and thus will never run away barring some kind of magic. Though in Exalted, zombies have a much higher chance of wound infection, so there's two reasons not to fight them.

  • My -0 Health Level Rule is Great - I gave everyone, including all the NPCs and monsters, -0 Health Levels equal to their Stamina. That helps make Stamina more valuable--though even without it, avoiding wound infections, knockdown, and so on makes Stamina better than with a game with Exalts--and reduces healing times, since healing is based on the category of Health Level: -0s take one day, but -1s take one week. Quite the jump. Again, magic exists to make that faster, but it's still no Cure Light Wounds.

  • Temporary Resources Are Very Influential - Since the margin of success was usually pretty small, spending a point of Willpower for an automatic success or channeling a Virtue for extra dice made the difference between success and failure several times. Amiyumi turned a near-miss into a hit at least twice, and Goji used all her Valor channels on attacks, I think. In a long-term game, they'd be more careful with them, but on the other hand they were outnumbered three to one here.

    While I used full Health Levels and 10s count double with the bandits, I didn't have them spend any Willpower. That's probably the way I'd do Extras for a grittier feel--they can't channel Virtues or spend Willpower. Lieutenants and up can.
It felt pretty sword and sorcery, which was exactly my goal. All in all, I'm pleased with how it worked out!

Edit: I just realized that the bandits were all armed with spears, so they could have used Thrust to make their attacks Piercing and get through some of that soak. Oops.
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Current Music: Kingdom Hearts - Trinity (Tspeiro OC ReMix)