Want less combat? Make Combats more deadly

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Want less combat? Make Combats more deadly

Post by leonelescantre » Tue Aug 17, 2021 2:00 pm

Why does a D&D party to tend to always answer a problem with violence?

Because they get away with it.

The moment a combat has little cost or little risk, you will find that it becomes a go-to solution to many conflicts. Ironically, by doing so, you will find yourself trapped in a situation where non-combat skills become less relevant to invest in. Because if we fight our way through the guards, why would I need the stealth skill, right? And with the fact that many other systems increase the amount of damage you can take before dying when you progress (gain HP per level etc) this risk becomes progressively less present. Regardless of the ever more dangerous opponents you may place infront of your group of adventuring heroes, the normal city guards will not pose a serious threat to them even when you only progressed a few sessions.

Talespinner, by default, does not increase the amout of "hits" you can take based on HP or hitboxes. All that increases are your chances to dodge, maybe absorb a blow if you are skilled, but you (by default) will not have more dan 10 Wounds before you pass out and almost die. This already makes a big difference in how players experience combat, because of the risks attached to engaging in a fight. And your players will more likely say:"Perhaps finding a non-combat solution is actually the best way to go...?" :twisted:

Now, I run a campaign in my homebrew sci-fi/cyberpunk/bladerunneresque setting and my focus is mostly on Narrative.
For the longest time I ran that campaign with almost not system at all, besides using a d10 to determine random results. (more on that in a different thread) But in an age where you can have kids using military grade machine guns, how do you make people feel the danger of combat?

I decided to alter a rule about damage in Talespinner: I changed the Weapon Grade Or Attribute, whichever is higher.

The direct result from this, is that it really becomes a rarity that the party involves themselves in combat. And when they do, that it results in a short but very heavy conflict where often times: Running away is a very valid option.

Therefore, by increasing the stakes, you find that a character that can assists in a non-combat approach to a problem, suddenly feels more validated than they were in a story where it revolves around constant gunfire. The nerdy-hacker-pilot, suddenly has more moments to shine, because everyone knows that they rather avoid a conflict if they can.

But how does that scale in challenge? Well, the great thing is that I can still decide what the kind of gear is that my players have or that the enemies have. I can say: These streetkids only have shitty sub-machineguns (grade 1), and are very bad at shooting (0-1 ranks) and not spectacular in attributes (2). If they hit you, they deal 2 damage. But in the same way that it is dangerous for the party, it is also dangerous for the NPCs. They do not want to die, and if they are heavily wounded, are more likely to retreat when it is clear that they are not likely to win the engagement. Another thing that I use is armour with conversion for my players as a standard, making it easier for my players to convert (a portion of) lethal damage into fatigue damage.

So far, my players have found it to be very intense, but does exactly what I want it to do.

And you know what the irony is?

The player kill that almost happened, was not because of combat, but rather because of the way that they (narratively) handled a situation.
Throwing napalm on the badguy and getting hit yourself.....seriously. Wtf. Ow well, great thing this character was actually wildborn.... :mrgreen:
What? Magic skills? You just need one: Chronomancy...
Maybe Chronomancy AND Pyromancy ... :P
Chronomancy though <3
Nah. Who am I kidding?
Chronomancy and Illusion. :twisted: :mrgreen:

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Re: Want less combat? Make Combats more deadly

Post by Talespinner » Wed Aug 18, 2021 9:14 pm

*Laughs* Yeah, that'll do it!
I love playing non-combat characters. And I've had several in TS. My favourite so far was Riens, a guy with a bus, a phobia for violence, a polio-survivor, and lots of witchcraft and tech savvy. Played him in a Supernatural campaign.

One thing to keep in mind with 'weapon grade or attribute (pick highest) is that it disincentivizes progressing your 'damage' attributes. That isn't a problem, though; it's a preference thing that you might want to think about.
If you're okay with it, then it's a good choice, and yeah, it will make combat a whole lot more dangerous!
TS seeks to be... Not-quite-as-dangerous as Warhammer, but still quite dangerous, where the threat of violence is meant to be a deterrent to engaging in it. A change like this can put it in Warhammer dangerous territory.
In Dreams we Trust.

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Re: Want less combat? Make Combats more deadly

Post by Sjackson3289 » Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:32 pm

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Post by ChinaDip » Tue Mar 08, 2022 8:57 pm

I agree with Zedf re SotSII, and as far as Northstar goes presumably ground combat will bear some relationship to Fort Zombie unless that was more about trialling city generation etc.

Note: Looking forwards to getting forum smacked for my presumption .

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