Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lost Songs of the Nibelungs Combat Example

This one is for all those wondering how combat is different in Lost Songs of the Nibelungs and in many ways a follow-up to this post from November with some conversion rules. It's also result of ongoing exchange between people gearing up to play this game and me trying to explain it. I'm ever grateful to the amount of patience those people are able to summon ... So this is a detailed example how combat in Lost Songs is less about rolling a die and see if something is hit but instead more about how complex combats really should (and can) be. It helps to be familiar with the basic rules of the game (the post linked above has rules converting D&D to Lost Songs, so if you've read that and use the picture below as orientation, you should be fine). Or just read this short summary up front:
Combat Dice are d6, rolled at the beginning of a round and used as described below. Combatants usually have Base Attack and Defense values that are added to the dice used for the main actions (attack, soak/damage, defend). 1s are discarded, 6s generate a new die for that round, doubles double the value of the dice involved, triples triple it. NPC combatants get a static die for familiar environment they can use for everything but doubles. Up to two dice can be delayed into the next round. The rest is about ...

... two hunters and an angry boar!

Snorrison and Ragnar hunt a boar and the beast decides to fight back. Snorri and Ragnar both have two Combat Dice each, the boar has three. Ragnar had damaged the boar with an arrow in the second round, taking the first round for aim. First round Ragnar rolls 2 and 3. He puts them in Delay (Attack). S. does nothing and the boar is unaware. Second round R. rolls a 2 and a 5, the 2 and the 3 from the first round come from the delay, so R. gets a shot of Base Attack (his is 10) + 16 (double 2 + 5 and 3) minus a tenth of the distance (30 m = 3), leaving him with an attack of 23. Using a bow, the damage is everything that is above the boar's Base Defense (which is 17 for the tough beast), so the boar gets 6 damage from the bow, which is enough to piss him off (he got a maximum of 28 Health). The environmental static for the boar is a 2.

So the boar charges and the guys get ready for close combat. Third round the results are S. with 1 and 3, R. with a result of 2 and 4 and the boar with a freakin' 1, 1 and 3 (I'm rolling this as I write it, by the way). Not much is happening this round after all the 1s are took out of play. The boar moves (3 on a Drop Die Action), S. delays the 3 to attack and R. changes Weapons and readies himself for an attack (2 on the Drop Die Action “Do”, 4 on Delay (Attack)). After that it's initiative again.

S. comes up with 1 and 2, there is also a 3 coming from Delay (Attack). R. is a little more lucky, he rolls a 3 and a 6. The 6 generates a new die and he adds a 2 to his initiative and gets a 4 from his Delay (Attack). The boar rolls a double 2 and a 1 (sigh).

Initiative is now in order: S. (a 2) – the boar (a 4) – R. (11)

Starting with the slowest, S. has to declare first. He had an attack prepared, so he needs to declare damage, too. His decisions are made: the 3 on Attack and the 2 on Damage, which leaves him with an attack of 13 (his Base Attack is 10) and that's a miss (since the boar's Base Defense is 17 and a successful attack needs more than that).

The boar is next and decides to delay his dice to the next round, squeaking and scratching angrily …

R. is the last to declare. He sees S. struggling with his attack and the boar powering up for next round. His dice are 2, double 3 and 6. He decides to support S.'s attack and attacks on his own (gives S. his 2 as a Drop Die Action (Coop), puts a 3 and the 6 in attack, a 3 on damage).

Resolving this round will show a successful attack from R. (10 (Base Attack) + 6 (one of the double threes) + 6 > 17), doing 6 damage (the second 3). The boar is doing nothing but taking damage this round. And thanks to R.'s support S. manages to hit true, too (10 + 8 (now a double 2) > 17), doing 3 damage. So the boar is down to 13 Health. This could still go terribly wrong. Next round.

S. has a double 3. A good start, but he also takes a Rage Die and gets another 5. R. has a 5 and a 6, adds another 5 with the new die (this guy is on fire!) and the boar has a 1, a 2 and a 3, with a double 2 coming in from delay and the environment corresponding with another 2. Still not much.
What a magnificent beast! [source]
Initiative this round is: the boar with 5 – S. with 11 – R. with 16

The beast is hurt and angry. Delay was at least one die in attack, so it'll have a 2 in attack and another 2 with the 3 in damage. The environmental static (not counting for doubles or triples) will be on Defense to prepare a soak with the third 2 (part of a triple, all counting 6 each now). It's attacking S., who has light armor (+3 to Base Defense) and a Base Defense of 8 (total Defense of 11).

S. is next and sees with dread the beast is going for him with a 15 (boar has a Base Attack of 9 and adds a 6 for the triple 2) and decides to do a 5 on Defend to avoid harm (total defense of 16 is > 15). It leaves him with a double 3 that wouldn't be enough to harm the beast, so he decides to regain the Rage Die and support R. (one 3 on the Drop Die Action Regain, the other on Coop).

R. sees that the boar is attacking S., but S. will be able to handle it and also positions the beast in a way that really supports an attack, so that's what he'll be doing (the 6 and the 3 to Attack = 19 > 17) and the double 5 on Damage (20!).

Resolving the round from fastest to slowest now will have R. dealing 20 damage, but the boar will be able to soak 6 of that, using the forests undergrowth as cover (the environmental static), leaving 14 damage (which leaves the boar at -1). Even if this would take the boar out (a Stomach Save will determine that), all attacks and damage resolutions are at the same time. So the boar will get his chance, attacks and S. defends against it. The Stomach Save (9 plus monster HD, in this case 12) comes up with 31 (rolled a 19 …) an that means the beast is still very much alive and angry. The next round should be the last one, though. Let's see.

S. starts with a 6, a 1 and adding a 4. Not bad, still, he adds another Rage Die, which turns out to be a 1 (so: nothing). R. is having a 5 and a 2, goes for the Rage Die and gets a 2. Boars are stubborn and this one won't go down or flee. Instead he comes up with 2, 3 and 5.

So initiatives are: R. with a 9 – the boar and S: tie with a 10 each (in this case it's 1d20 each, higher is faster, the boar looses)

R. declares first. Double 2 on attack (would hit) and the 5 on damage is what he decides. The boar again has the environment on his side (static 2), so he defends with that (total defense now 19) and also attacks S. again, the 3 on Attack and the 2 and 5 on Damage. S. sees that R.'s attack will be useless because the boar is hiding in the undergrowth again to avoid the attack. The beast is also going for him for 7 damage, so he should do something against that, too. He decides to Defend with the 6 and gives the 4 to R. to support that attack.

Those 5 Damage could only hit home true because R. and S. worked together and that's what killed the boar in the end (he didn't make his second, more difficult Stomach Save and after that he's dead meat). Both had gained Rage Dice in the end and the last thing after the fight is that they need to roll those and subtract them from Endurance. Both loose 4 Endurance because of the fight but are otherwise unharmed.
And that's how combat works

Some luck, some tactics and lots of teamwork! And it is about decisions. Even with keeping those numbers, different decision could lead to a very different outcome. Add more combatants and it results in an even more complex (but satisfying, in my opinion) narrative, with everyone bringing a different style to the table. It's a system a player can get better at, but that is also very forgiving because it enforces teamwork and experimentation. It evolves not only with the character but also with the player.

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