• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[SotC] How should we then have fought ?

brookmill

Retired User
So last weekend I played Sotc for the first time. It essentially rocked. The players took over. I've never been in a situation like this before- we were surprising each other with the shit that was happening... best ever game ...v. funny, camp, pulpy, lots of accents!


... however the fights were not as good as they could have been. Could you have a look and suggest how we could have played it better?


In the final encounter, the players cornered the bad dude and his minions in a cave. OK, the bad guy was a tohunga (New Zealand Maori druid/ wizard type ) with a variety of toa (warrior ) henchman and the like, who rushed in to attack.

The fight was a bit of a hack fest. It took too long and became dull! The minions were fair. There were 8 of them, and the tohunga, the equivalent of a Centurion. Actually they were well matched-the (two) players lost, but only just, largely through v. unlucky rolling and FP exhuastion from earlier encounters...

I felt we needed to tag more aspects of the situation to make the fight cooler, and to finish it off more quickly. The scene was atmospheric enough:

A cavern, half-filled with water, deep beneath the foothills of New Zealand's Southern Alps. There were several statues of the Maori leviathan ( taniwha ) , big carved muvvas. Stalactites. And a big body of inky black water, from which, the heroes fear, some nameless fearful monster might emerge at any moment.

Apart from their own aspects n stunts (the guys did a good job with these) what tags/manuevres could the players have pulled (particulalry scene aspects as these seemed to be the problem)

Any suggestions/guidance? esp cool suggestions?

Also, just a brief extra question-can players target a leader directly- without first applying damage to her (aha! caught you-sexist!) minions? this came up in the fight too...
 

BoJo

I look on social groups with dismay
Validated User
(NB - I played in this game. Yes, it truly rocked, terrific fun.)

Looking at the rule book, I'd say we didn't do nearly enough laying aspects or tagging environmental stuff. You WERE trying to encourage us but we just weren't getting the idea. I for one wasn't entirely sure how the "you can tag it for free the first time" thing worked, and was thus a little timid.

The book has an interesting example about one guy tagging a foe as unbalanced and passing the free tag to the next guy to use to knock him down. That's a cool idea, but not immediately obvious as something you can do.

I was also a little unsure of what was in there and how to use it. COuld I have had the taniwha come up and bite some guy on the arse, eg? I wasn't entirely sure how I could make that stuff happen.

I wouldn't sweat it too much. That big fight was the end of the sesh, so we were perhaps not as fresh and lively to stuff as we could have been doing - I'd say that the combat is never really going to "work" unless you do lots of tagging etc. but we were just too inexperienced to quite get it. I think things would improve with another session.

Also, a bullet pointed list of how to tag environmental aspects and how to lay aspects on people might have been useful - it's just not immediately obvious, esp when you are used to more striaghtforward RPGs.

BoJo
 

Brad J. Murray

VSCA
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Allow free-taggable aspects to stack. When players start doing maneuvers and declares to drop cinematic disadvantageous aspects on the big bad guy so that their Gun monster can free-tag all six of them later, you get a nice dramatic feel and justification for the big rolls.

Allow fewer or no consequences when hits are off the track -- fights go fast if you go straight to the concession if the hit exceeds the phys track and it feels like a climactic scene because the only way to get there is a dramatically great difference in results.

Fight multiple times over the session, carrying consequences forward. Maybe the first fight is strictly social and the bad guy departs with one or two consequences and they are still nagging him in the big end fight. Now he's not injured but he can take fewer consequences before he goes down.

Require consequences -- that is, every hit is a consequence and when three are used up, then your phys track starts taking hits. This gets you into the consequence death spiral fast and the opponents will be hitting much harder if they have the fate points to exploit it.
 

brookmill

Retired User
(NB - I played in this game. Yes, it truly rocked, terrific fun.)

Looking at the rule book, I'd say we didn't do nearly enough laying aspects or tagging environmental stuff. You WERE trying to encourage us but we just weren't getting the idea. I for one wasn't entirely sure how the "you can tag it for free the first time" thing worked, and was thus a little timid.

The book has an interesting example about one guy tagging a foe as unbalanced and passing the free tag to the next guy to use to knock him down. That's a cool idea, but not immediately obvious as something you can do.

I was also a little unsure of what was in there and how to use it. COuld I have had the taniwha come up and bite some guy on the arse, eg? I wasn't entirely sure how I could make that stuff happen.

I wouldn't sweat it too much. That big fight was the end of the sesh, so we were perhaps not as fresh and lively to stuff as we could have been doing - I'd say that the combat is never really going to "work" unless you do lots of tagging etc. but we were just too inexperienced to quite get it. I think things would improve with another session.

Also, a bullet pointed list of how to tag environmental aspects and how to lay aspects on people might have been useful - it's just not immediately obvious, esp when you are used to more striaghtforward RPGs.

BoJo
Step forward BoJo! BoJo aka La Vespa, an Italian aritstocrat who avenges injustice!! What a cool character dude!

I agree, we just need a leedle expereince to 'get' the scene tagging thing, and i also agree that it's the least intuitive (or at least immediately intuitive) thing to pick up. I think some bullet points re this would be very helpful.

also a couple of fight examples-which is what i hope these Old Masters here (who've played the game, like, twice) may provide us with....

Hope you're gonna GM next time! Ho ho!
 

brookmill

Retired User
Allow free-taggable aspects to stack. When players start doing maneuvers and declares to drop cinematic disadvantageous aspects on the big bad guy so that their Gun monster can free-tag all six of them later, you get a nice dramatic feel and justification for the big rolls.

Allow fewer or no consequences when hits are off the track -- fights go fast if you go straight to the concession if the hit exceeds the phys track and it feels like a climactic scene because the only way to get there is a dramatically great difference in results.

Fight multiple times over the session, carrying consequences forward. Maybe the first fight is strictly social and the bad guy departs with one or two consequences and they are still nagging him in the big end fight. Now he's not injured but he can take fewer consequences before he goes down.

Require consequences -- that is, every hit is a consequence and when three are used up, then your phys track starts taking hits. This gets you into the consequence death spiral fast and the opponents will be hitting much harder if they have the fate points to exploit it.
These are some awesome ideas. A couple are kind of 'advanced' in that they appear to be house rules -ish, based on your expereince of the system...more Unearthed Arcana than Players Handbook IYSWIM...

At the mo I'm just after some more simple advice re. the basic mechanics, some examples, etc.

Not that your suggestions aren't enormously valuable-I'll save them up in my SotC Word file for when we're ready to handle them!
 

Rob Donoghue

Registered User
Validated User
The responses so far have been on the nose, so I'll just weigh in and say that the impact of maneuvers cannot be overstated, especially for purposes of teamwork, where the first PC sets up the maneuver and the second one takes the free tag to land a more palpable hit. Without that, fights can quickly be dull slugfests.

That said, consider taking multiple free tags as a heartily endorsed houserule - the limit is one of the things which did not create an issue in playtest but which, in wider play, has become apparent as a limitation that need not be in place. It's not that it's broken as is, but rather, that it is genuinely a lot more fun to "set them up and knock them down," so to speak.

-Rob D.
 

brookmill

Retired User
The responses so far have been on the nose, so I'll just weigh in and say that the impact of maneuvers cannot be overstated, especially for purposes of teamwork, where the first PC sets up the maneuver and the second one takes the free tag to land a more palpable hit. Without that, fights can quickly be dull slugfests.

That said, consider taking multiple free tags as a heartily endorsed houserule - the limit is one of the things which did not create an issue in playtest but which, in wider play, has become apparent as a limitation that need not be in place. It's not that it's broken as is, but rather, that it is genuinely a lot more fun to "set them up and knock them down," so to speak.

-Rob D.
OK, well looking at your avatar, it lokks like that endorsement is pretty official! Could you give me a quick example? I'm an examply kind of guy!

BTW, as BoJo mentioned, could you tag a myserious dark body of water in a taniwha cave so that a monster comes out and biotes sb on the arse?
 

devlin1

Human Paraquat
Validated User
OK, well looking at your avatar, it lokks like that endorsement is pretty official! Could you give me a quick example? I'm an examply kind of guy!

BTW, as BoJo mentioned, could you tag a myserious dark body of water in a taniwha cave so that a monster comes out and biotes sb on the arse?
That's a little more than a "tag," but -- if the GM were agreeable -- you could make an assessment or declaration about the water. Or, for that matter, about any of the NPCs or the scene itself.

For example, an academic-type, if you had one, could use his knowledge of geology (Academics) to declare that it would only take a well-placed gunshot to knock a stalactite loose and send it crashing down on the tohunga's head. Call the declared aspect "Precarious Stalactite." It's a fragile aspect, though -- i.e., it'll go away quickly -- because tagging it means making it fall, which means it can't be tagged again. The next character takes a shot at the stalactite (Guns), tags the Precarious Stalactite aspect for free, spends a Fate Point on an aspect of his own, and now he has a +4 to his Guns skill for the shot. The stalactite will "attack" the tohunga with effort equal to the shooter's Guns total. Teamwork!

Declaring that the water's home to a monster of some kind is probably going to be a lot harder; see the assessment and declaration rules in the book. If the PCs are the ones making the declaration/assessment, it's a bit of a double-edged sword, since they're probably going to have to deal with the monster before, and certainly in addition to, the cultists. The GM, of course, can put any damn thing he wants in there. Whatever comes out of the water is going to be an NPC under the GM's control, although I guess, through very convoluted use of, say, the Network of Contacts stunt, a player could have some say over what that monster does.

And of course you can attack the minions' leader before the minions. I don't think there's anything in the book that says you can't. It's not M:tG, after all.
 

Rob Donoghue

Registered User
Validated User
I'm going to break down the answer a bit here, just to keep it simple
<B>1. Using the scene</b>
Ok, so breaking down the scene, I'd say the likely aspects I'd start with on the scene are:
  • Murky Depths
  • Stalactites
  • Giant Statues

Now, those are all pretty usable, and some possible tags include:
  • Shooting a stalactite so it falls to pin something, granting a bonus to using guns for a maneuver
  • An Acrobatic character swinging from the stalactites on an attack
  • A character in the water misjudges their footing and slips in the murky depths
  • A knockback or throw pushes a target towards the murky depths.
  • The villains mooks make a surprise attack from the water, using the Murky Depths aspect on the surprise attempt.
  • A strong character pushes down a statue, using might to make an attack or maneuver
  • Our swinging character swings from a statue


<B>2. Adding to the scene</b>
Devlin's nailed this pretty solidly, so let me just expand on it a little.

Now, let's say our brilliant scientist decides to assert that this is the lair of the Hunga Munga worm, which comes out only to feed once every fifty years and it's next emergence is...RIGHT NOW! That's a little rough to do, mechanically, because there's no _action_ that comes from that. However, it's also pretty awesome, so if the GM is cool with it, absolutely roll with it.

So, instead, let's say that our brilliant occultist wants to make a declaration that this is the lair of the Hunga Munga Worm and that the words of summoning it are on one of the statues (which he tags for a bonus on the roll). That's a little more actionable because the character needs to take actions, specifically to get over to the statue and spend some time reading the chant, so it's actually well within the bounds of a declare, with the important qualifier that it says nothing about whether waking the Hunga Munga Worm is a good idea. It probably isn't.

Now, as an aside, as the GM, you control the valve on these sorts of things through your ability to control difficulties, so if these seem too silly or over the top, crank up the difficulty and call it a day.

<b>3. Teaming up vs. Pounding</b>

Ok, assume three heroes and one villain, all with equal combat skills.

All three heroes attack the villain. They get lucky and 2 of them hit for small amounts of damage, say, MoS 2 each. The Villain has a decent stress track (Say, 8 boxes), so he can just take the hits, and his track now looks like 0XX00000. It's pretty clear that at this rate, it's going to be a while before anything interesting happens.

In contrast, let's say that heroes 1 and 2 perform maneuvers, putting "off balance" and "distracted" on the villain and #3 makes an attack, taking both of those free tags. His 2 MoS hit becomes a 6 MoS hit. It does not take many rounds like that (or better yet, taking one round of _all_ maneuvers, followed by a whammy of an attack next round) before the bad guy starts taking consequences. And if you've got 4 or more characters, the effect is even more pronounced.

Now, this demonstrates that maneuvers + attacks have _some_ mechanical advantages over just attacks, but there's one other factor which tips the scale - maneuvers are the best way to mechanically use your best skill against an opponents weakness. Since almost any skill can be used to perform a maneuver (if you can think of a clever enough way to use it), a clever maneuver can allow your social character to verbally berate his ninja opponent who he could _never_ hit with his fists. This application of strong against weak means every character can make a difference, and that goes a long way towards keeping everyone engaged.

I hope that helps.

-Rob D.

PS - The issue of attacking bosses vs. minions is ultimately just a narrative and mechanical convenience. Unless you say otherwise, you're _always_ attacking the boss, but he still benefits from the presence of his minions. In the abstract, they're giving him cover, getting in your way and so on, and there are ways to justify it, but the reality is that it's just a genre convention that gives villains an excuse to surround themselves with disposable minions. :)
 
Last edited:

devlin1

Human Paraquat
Validated User
Yes, that is definitely the way you summon a Hunga Munga worm. I mean, look at how awesome that is: Through a combination of player ingenuity and character ability, a bespectacled academic turns a combat scene on its ear using nothing but his knowledge of ancient languages and a reckless disregard for human life. It's not every game that can do that, and do it so easily.

I'd also say that, when it comes to having an effect on the scene itself, spending a Fate Point or two can (or should) spell the difference between "No, there's no writing on the statues" and "Whaddya know, there's some kinda crazy writing on the statues."
 
Top Bottom