Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Beast Fight

The following sequence arose from events played out over several posts, between February 2 to 7, 2018. Links for the posts are included in the text below.

After the last post, Investigating the Stairs, we're in the position to deconstruct the combat that followed. This is a particularly example: the players made no particular errors, the dice fell against them for quite a lot of it, the situation was very tense for far too long and the party was able to pull themselves out of an extraordinary tailspin, barely avoiding a total-party-kill. All things that make this a combat worth examination.

The participants in the combat were Embla the assassin; Lothar the ranger; Engelhart the cleric; Pandred the fighter. These were supported by Bergthora and Fjall, two hirelings. A third hireling, Willa, was far away, watching a distant "front door." My plan was to have Willa appear in the 11th round (if the combat lasted that long, which I did not expect), to tell the party that the owners of the lair had returned, somewhat trapping the party in the lair (though a backdoor was available).

Half of this discussion will cover what is happening from round to round; the other half, I hope, will cover the antagonist's motives against the party, the setting for the combat and the dilemmas presented as the combat was resolved.

The enemy was a "dog-Beast": a huge, eight-and-a-half foot tall humanoid with a dog's head and great long claws. The Beast received two attacks per round: it could attack with its teeth and with one claw. I recognize that most monster descriptions tend to make most beasts ambidextrous, but I will often limit a less intelligent, agile monster to the use of only one or the other hand, not both. That was the case here. The bite caused 2-16; the claw, 1-8. There was a special ability. If the bite rolled a natural 20, it caused triple damage on the hit. That was a potential quick kill, however unlikely.

At the start of the fight, Embla had failed to kill the Beast outright; however, she had succeeded in reducing the Beast to a total of 24 hit points, a fact kept secret from the party. By my rules, if one quarter of a defender's present hit points are removed by a single hit, that defender is "stun-locked" ~ for one round. This is modified if the defender has two attacks. An attack causing a quarter of the Beast's hit points reduces the Beast to one attack (a claw); to remove both attacks, a third of the Beast's hit points would have to be lost in damage. From this, I can explain that a single hit of 6 damage would be sufficient to reduce the Beast's combat effectiveness to a claw attack only; a single hit of 8 damage would be enough to stop the Beast from attacking at all (for one round). In this way, several good rounds by a party against a relatively weak defender can quickly end a fight. And this was a weak defender (it has been severely injured in may fights, evidenced by the pool of blood).

Round 1: the party rushes in to engage the Beast
The fight begins with Embla immediately adjacent to the Beast. The rest of the party rushes in, but spend their round closing with the Beast. Lothar, Fjall and Bergthora are too far away to reach the room, but can be seen on the stairs. Pandred shouts that the party needs to spread out; she knows that if the party is tripping over each other, this will limit their potential attacks. As seen in the image, she can't get at the Beast between Embla and Engelhart. Lothar expresses his excitement: "Looking forward to putting this thing down!" These are the typical sounds that we've all come to associate with combat; even with playing by comments on a blog, the excitement in the air is palpable.

continued elsewhere...

This is the second of two such posts I will be writing in the month of March for the Tao's Master Class blog, where the rest of this post can be found. Examples on the Tao of D&D blog can be found here and here.

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1 comment:

Pandred said...

An unluckier string of dice you could not find.

It was a good fight.