Gladiators Runequest 6 style!

To show off the combat system for those who had not experienced it yet (and Matt, who has), I decided to put together a little player vs player gladiatorial combat action using Runequest 6 based on this article.   I rolled about 15 Gladiators for RQ, priced them based on their stats (mostly looking at AP, Combat Style, Damage mod, Evade and Endurance) and had the players buy them with 1000 sectartiis.  Most gladiators were about 300s, but a few hardcore guys were more.  The only requirement was that they had at least 3 fighters for 3 rounds of that day’s games.  The winner of each round would receive $$ and if any gladiators were killed, the owner of the killer would have to pay up, just like in real life.

If they had $$ left over after buying fighters, they could buy luck points for 50s.  These could be used at any time for any gladiator to force a reroll on another player, or reroll the dice themselves.  Once used for the day, they were gone.

I did use miniatures for this fight to keep things clear.  Everyone was close together and there were no ranged weapons, so it made it easy.  We had three players for these events, again with 3 gladiators each and a few luck points between them.

When Animals Attack

The first round was a fight with a bear, naturally (I recommend all new players and GM’s start with an animal combat of some kind, like a hunt or bear attack).  The players threw in one gladiator each and they went to town.  The combatants were:

Beaire the Nasty, a Thracian (note, these guys have big shields, but only a hooked DAGGER)

Nesset the Ugly, a Provocator (huge shield, shortsword)

Tecocia the Reaver, a Retiarius (the net and trident dudes)

There was some early confusion as to what the bear would do with the net being thrown onto him, but I made the call since he didn’t know what it was, he wouldn’t parry.  Needless to say, the bear didn’t spend a lot of time parrying, and mostly spent his time attacking.

Nesset was able to impale with his short sword, but it did not hinder the bear’s skills at all (based on a size chart of weapon to creature/person size).  As a group, they were able to fend off the bear for a bit, long enough for Tecocia to net it so it had difficulty attacking and then impale it with the trident (which did quite a bit of damage).  Unfortunately, the poor Retiarius decided not to parry a blow from the bear and had his leg torn off for his trouble.  The remaining two gladiators were able to hack the bear down with the trident still sticking out of him, and survive unscathed to the cheering of the crowd.  While it seems forgone conclusion, things could have gone terribly, terribly wrong for the gladiators.  Without the retiarius, I think they would have been bloodied meat in the sand mostly because the Thracian and Provocator use their weapon special effects to good use vs humans, but not so much vs the brawn monster that is a bear.


Individual Fights

The second event was the individual fights between gladiators.  The players put forth their champions and lots were drawn to determine the fighters.  I stepped in because we had only three players in order to give a fight to the odd man.

The combatants in the first fight were

Coprica – Murmillo (Large shield, short sword, Heavy head armor)

Pepominili – Hoplomachus (Short spear, tiny shield and a dagger)

This went back and forth and really caused us to look in the rulebook a lot for being prone, tripping, different weapon lengths and a few other rules since the spear and the short sword were two weapon lengths apart.   While I love the RQ6 book, not everything you need for a rule is in the same place, so there’s hunting and pecking.  Also in this fight we ran into some trouble with players taking a long time to pick special effects–  the android app would have helped here, but no one had an android, so we had to use sheets of paper and my homemade GM screen.

This was a reach fight.  The Hoplomachus was able to keep the Murmillo at bay for most of the fight, despite his small shield he was able to defend mostly by backing away.  There was a big difference in combat style % here, with the Hoplomachus at 82%!

Eventually due to sheer luck, Coprica kept getting hit in his unarmoured arm (among MANY armored places) and passed out from the shock and blood loss for a win for Papamillia the Hoplomachus.

The second fight was the fastest RQ6 fight I’ve ever experienced.  The combatants were:

Nesset the Ugly (the Provocator from the first animal fight)

Necnipro the Doomed (a Dimachaerus, which has only leg armor and two short swords !???)

I figured this would be a chance to see how the FLURRY special effect worked since that’s what the Dimachaerus’s come with, but, Nesset engaged and attacked… and fumbled his attack roll! Necnipro succeeded with her parry giving two special effects (and access to the attacker fumble special effects) which were Compel Surrender and Force Failure.  This means the combatant would normally get a willpower roll to resist the compel surrender, but the second effect, only usable when someone fumbles, forced the failure.  Nesset, while unhurt, was booed by the crowed and probably died of shame in his heart moments later.

The Melee

The final battle was a free for all melee with four fighters and would be a long slough to the end.

The combatants (in order of strike rank):

Misuae (I just kept calling him Mouse) – another Retiarius again with a net and trident

Necnipro the Doomed (Dimachaerus fresh of her 2 second win over Nesset the ugly!) – two short swords

Ecaubus the Monstrous (a huge Gual/Sartar with a broadsword and big shield, but no other armor).

Posttastis the Blood Drinker (Provocator, again, big shield, shortsword and armor)

Misuae charged Postastis (here on out, called mouse and potatoes) and while the Retiarius got in some shots without parries from the Provocator, his armor saved him multiple times (warding location with that fuckn big shield helped too).  Mouse was just unable to close the distance for long versus that trident and even hit himself in the leg with his shield at one point.  Eventually though, the Provocator was able to strike the spear arm of the Retiarius and forced him to drop his trident.  Mouse carried on with only his net until…

Necnipro and Ecaubus had the exact same strike rank in this fight, and this was odd since if one declared and attack, the other parried and… could attack again?  We didn’t have time to look into the rules much for this but a few times both gladiators simply attacked without parrying at the same time.  In one exchange, Necnipro got a bleeder on Ecaubus and nearly severed one of her arms.  She stayed in the fight and impaled Necnipro with her broadsword.  Necnipro in a display of bravery, pulled the broadsword out of her abdomen, made her endurance roll and fought on, twice forcing Ecaubus to check willpower or surrender (who made very good dice rolls to stay in the fight).  Nearly bled out, Ecaubus had the last laugh and took Necnipro (remember, armourless except her legs) out of action.

The Gaul (Ecaubus) then ran and attacked the Retiarius who had regained his trident from the bloody sand and was warding off Mouse again.  We were not sure whether or not the longer weapon (trident) could hold off the broad sword and deemed not because one was L and one was M.  Ecaubus got a special effect and compelled Mouse to surrender.  Even while bleeding out (she was at formidable skill difficulty at this point) Ecaubus the Monstrous was able to hit the Provocator and that was the end of it– until the owner of the Provocator remembered a luck point and using this, was able to keep the fight going and force surrender on Ecaubus the Monstrous who would have probably collapsed moments later from bleeding…

that’s a 25mm equivalent of a penis. It’s like the evil plot from Black Dynamite happened to this guy!

So that was that.  There was a lot of discussion about the nature of opposed rolls, which means that if both parties succeed, whoever gets highest without going over their skill wins the contest (an ideal roll would be 95% [corrected from 98%, which is an auto failure] if you had 100% skill).  This is one of the subtle yet awesome things about RQ6 to keep the game moving and not have ‘nothing happen.’  Granted attacks/parries are not opposed rolls, so there can be times when, if both opponents have the same weapon size, that they bounce off each other in the attack-parry sequence. However, shortly something will happen when a failure, critical or fumble comes along.

There were a lot of new rules I had not had to deal with in the Vikinthulhu campaign yet, so we had to look up a lot. Things in the heat of the moment could not always be made clear.  Issues we had specifically were around:

  • Arise (special effect) and getting up from prone, and what the effects of being prone are.
  • Charging – it costs an AP to charge…but you don’t get to attack as I understand it with that AP? strange!
  • Flurry (special effect) seems pointless? I don’t get this special effect. (only unarmed and two weapon guys can have it, so no big deal).
  • The use of NETS and tripping and immobilizing

Overall a good time and great practice for me as a GM.  The special effect selection slowed everything down more than I would have liked, but this could be helped with a better organized cheat sheet that shows normal special effects, critical ones and ones only on fumbles.  A sheet specific to each player with just the special effects they can use based on their weapon-set would be cool to make. OR if that special effect app was either web-based or on IOS would help

13th Age characters are tough as hell!

We’ve been playing 13th Age for over a year now and I’ve been following the balanced encounter advice in the main book (with an excel sheet some dude made to back it up).   Most of the time they’ve been fighting humans, which are easy to make on the fly, but a few times I generated a monster with Raggi’s RANDOM ESOTERIC CREATURE GENERATOR FOR CLASSIC FANTASY ROLE-PLAYING GAMES AND THEIR MODERN SIMULACRA and slapped the 13th Age stats on them (and triggered powers, gotta love those).  The system makes it fairly easy to create battles that won’t totally fuck the characters, but I’m finding now that maybe as published the advice leans a wee bit on the easy side and by wee bit, I mean a lot. Most of the stuff I’ve thrown at them is pretty much in line with what the characters, now at level 2, supposedly can take on, but last night I threw the kitchen sink at them, and no characters dropped!  The battle was tense, and the characters got messed up, but I went for the (planned) dues ex machina without them really needing it.


Basic math suggestion is that with 4 characters at level 1, you should have 4 (normal sized) monsters of level 1 for an even fight (or equivalent).  This changes with tiers to be finally about 2-1 at Epic tier, but if I was to give advice to start the calculation, I would say # of creatures at the party’s level +1.  So five first level characters vs 6 first level orcs should be a balanced encounter.

I had a prepped battle ready for about 6 months to pull out when needed (wasn’t sure where it would take place, but I knew what was coming) and I tweaked it from time to time to make sure it wasn’t too hard, yet it was supposed to be a hard fight, the capstone of part of the campaign if you will.  It ended up being a 2-session battle and even without the Barbarian in the first session, they mopped the floor with the bad guys including a nasty Hungry Star.

How did they do it?

  • Paladin (with the apt nickname “the dauntless”) has a ridiculous AC as the escalation die goes up due to a magic shield.  By round 4, she was nearly unhittable by the mooks, and one of the bigbads couldn’t manage to hit her.
  • Bard had a power to give 2 free recoveries out during the fight.  This saved a couple character’s asses and is very powerful.  The bard’s song also helped quite a bit.
  • Doling out huge damage from the ranger, including special effects.  The ranger class can stunt to get bonuses/effects and there was incredible rolling. He rolled at least two 30’s during the combat– enough to hit anything that exists!
  • And, as always, the Barbarian in session 2 of the fight, even without being able to Rage this battle, was destroying everything nearby with nearly comically high dice rolling.
  • The sorceress can and will be a mega-damage dealer as long as she doesn’t get attacked by enemies too often and dropped.

Now they get their first long rest (unless they do something… stupid) after about 6 sessions and the recovery gas tanks will be filled to the brim.

Gencon events, what a chore!

Why do I still go to Gencon?  I’m thinking the smaller cons (especially around here) are going to fit the bill better than the 60K attendance monstrosity.  Having everyone ready for 11 AM today was a bitch, people got together as if it was some sort of business meeting.  Fucksake, this is what you have to go through to get events? Madness.   Despite the craziness, the online system is pretty amazing.  While confusing at times, it parses a shocking amount of information in a fairly short amount of time.   Coordination is the fucking thing.  If we weren’t trying to get into games together, it would be a lot easier, but half the fun is playing with part strangers, part amigos.

I got all my Runequest requests, but nothing else.  I ain’t complaining.  The only game I really wanted other than that was Feng Shui 2 and, though there were no games, Shinobigami Modern Ninja Battle Game.

And I’m running a Lamentations of the Flame Princess game.  First event I’ve ever run there after all these decades of going.   I was thinking either that, Into the Odd or Feng Shui 2 and LotFP won out.  I’m going to run an entrant (randomly from a set of 10 good ones) from the one page dungeon contest.

May: DOOM and Total War Warhammer

May 2016 is shaping up to be a very important month for PC gaming. Two absolutely critical titles are hitting the streets in the next couple weeks and it looks like i’m going to have to take a few days off to cope with it physically and emotionally.

First up is DOOM. While watching some of the gameplay videos, one should not that this is not a speedy game like the original, it is dead slow in comparison. That said, it does not go the route of horror FPS that Doom 3 does, more like a slow moving Serious Sam with awesome looking kill shots and death animations. While the slowness, especially for the Doom franchise, is sad, I am very excited for the game. I even pre–ordered it due to getting Wolfenstein for free.

Second will be the biggest times suck for me of 2016 outside of Master of Orion– Warhammer Total War. Set in the new destroyed Old World that many of us hold dear from our youths playing WFRP and Mordheim, there’s not a Sigmarine to be seen anywhere, which is a great thing. CA took more time to develop the game after what looked like a Fall 2015 launch, and if Rome 2’s launch and fix cycle is any indication, this is a good thing. While I expect there to be bugs, it should be nothing like the catastrophic launch of Rome 2 (which, while it took them a year, they finally fixed to create an amazing game in the end). The main thing here is that CA is doing things they’ve never, ever done with the TW game (see below).

So yeah, if I don’t show up for stuff in the next couple months, you know what I’m doing!

Mythras- Classic Fantasy is out

alexandriaWhat is it? Classic Fantasy is a mod of Mythras (formerly Runequest 6) focusing on old school dungeon crawls with miniature-based combat.  So you have your solid Runequest 6 combat with special effects and weapon builds that actually mean something in battle with the added framework to play crawls, another magic system (akin to Olde schoole D&D) and the monsters to go with it.

Some differences:

  • RQ is not a dungeon crawl fight to fight to fight game, so Classic Fantasy has allowances for healing up between fights easier (and spells for that to boot)
  • Use of mini’s is a big change.  RQ likely works fine with miniatures (I’ve never played it that way) but this has rules for movement, hexes and squares, etc.
  • Race and class character creation a bit more streamlined than the concept, culture, class style of normal RQ.  All the race and class stuff is what you’d expect from D&D.

This marks the first Mythras branded product from Design Mechanism (the RQ6 guys) and it’s pretty great.  Granted, it’s more complex than D&D, but anyone that has played any D20 recently and remembers the long, drawn out fights with attacks to no specific location (I was in one such fight today in 5E) may want to look a this as a salve for that type of combatboredom.  In addition, having a new magic system for RQ is nothing to sneeze at either.

This has a better run down of the system than I can do (I have real problems reading PDF’s– I need a physical book or I just can’t plow into a text and that ain’t here yet).