Mouseguarding Pathfinder- Spicing up Combat

Wayne Reynolds is the man.

Aww… Combat that wonderfully exciting part of role-playing where swords dance and cut down enemies, arrows fly and strike with amazing efficiency, and spells are cast, protecting allies and raining down doom and fire on foes.

Aww… Combat that extremely frustrating part of role-playing where players fumble attack rolls and their eyes twitch, blank stares greet the Game Master as players attempt to figure out their action, and Game Masters shrug as a casters spell is rendered ineffective for so many various reasons.

Combat is both a blessing and a curse for both players and Game Masters. For some it is the planning that goes in to an encounter, only to have it not be as epic as planned, or simply go awry. For others it is the sheer amount of options, decisions, and rules that seem to bog them down and can make it difficult for a player to go with a plan of action. Or it could also be for a player to wait patiently for their turn, an awesome idea in their head about what horrors they are going to inflict on an enemy, to roll and miss their attack or their spell to be overcome by Spell Resistance or a really high Saving roll.

It is this last part that I would like to touch on today. I know that at my table and from posts I’ve read on RPGBN this is something that happens quite often. From my experience, players don’t mind waiting 20 minutes for their turn in combat if something happens during their turn. Nothing is more boring and pointless than for a player to wait, go to attack, miss, and then boom, that’s it and we are moving on to the next player. I think this is increased when a player is having an off night in rolls and constantly misses or has their ideas shot down by poor rolls, or other players killing or overshadowing their ideas.

I have been talking at length with Chuck over at Geek Life Project and both us are planning on running Dresden Files games using the DFRPG/FATE Rule system. I am speaking just for myself, but I think that Chuck and I both really enjoy the Aspect system of FATE. Put simply, it is amazing. And DFRPG takes it to a whole new level. Aspects allow for players to really make characters their own. Aspects provide for very cool unique, strategic, and clever ways for the player to do things both in and out of combat.

I have mentioned in a previous post that this is something I want to incorporate into my various other games. The way Aspects are used make is so things can be done, even when a player doesn’t get a great roll.

Then it dawned on me, what about using the Mouse Guard mechanics I have already placed in my games: Complications/Twists/Conditions. Now first I’ll admit I don’t know how this will play out, it is not something I have gotten to play around with yet, but I’m thinking it would add a new layer of fun to combat.

To Miss or Not to Miss

Complications/Twists/Conditions (C/T/C here on in) is an awesome mechanic that I have had great fun with in the past. I think that adding this mechanic to combat would create new situations and fun for the players. Even if they miss an attack something would happen for better or worse.

If a fighter makes an attack and misses- go to C/T/C philosophy. Maybe he slips on rubble on the ground and now he’s prone. Perhaps the fighters sword does strike home and impale the enemy, but it get stuck in the creature and it yanks it away.

A spell caster could cast a spell and instead of it just going bye bye due to spell resistance it could go off course and strike the building, causing structural damage- or exerted so much force that it has fatigued the caster.

I think that this could be enjoyable and keep the battle field moving in a much more fluid motion rather than just on successful attacks and actions. It causes players to have to adapt to changes that they didn’t see coming.

Any thoughts, ideas, comments?

Author: Mike Evans

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

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