Thursday, May 10, 2018

What to Do, What to Do

Video game characters don't have stats.
They don't breathe.  They don't clean up.
Makes everything a very simple game.
I'm writing this in answer to a player ~ but to be honest, I don't think it will be of much use outside of my campaign.  That is because, for most players, being of low-level isn't a thing, running out of spells and hit points isn't a thing, running out of healing isn't a thing, lacking magic isn't a thing, encumbrance isn't a thing, bad rolls and character death isn't a thing, heat stroke isn't a thing, exhaustion isn't a thing, dehydration isn't a thing, having to manage details isn't a thing, etcetera.  All the things that happen in real life that aren't things that matter in a D&D world makes me wonder why characters have stats at all.

It is the end of a battle and there are just a few creatures still fighting your party, while your character is past the point of effectiveness.  Perhaps your low level mage is out of spells, or out of healing; you've thrown your last dagger or you're grimly hanging onto it.  Your fighter is a hit point from death.  You're out of this fight and you know it ... yet your friends are still at it, and a bad roll could kill one of them.  You want to help.  You just don't know what you can do.

I'd like to make a few suggestions.  Some your character can do without preparation, and some things need to be set up in advance the next time you're in town.

For example, have a few flasks of distilled beverage or strong ale.  If you're past worrying about the fight, it won't hurt to get a bit flushed ~ you're not going to need that attack die anyway, not now.

You can get some of the hirelings or followers to get out of the fight; they're just NPCs, and it won't hurt if they pull back and let the main characters mop up.  Don't want some man-at-arms to catch a mace two rounds before the fight ends!  They've done well; call them off the line, tell them to rest, tell them to drink from this flask and lift their morale; they've done their job and they can stop. Won't hurt to role-play a little and commend them, and help build their loyalty.  After all, you're their boss.

As long as the fight's over, remember that there's a lot to be policed.  Roll the dead into a pile.  Gather up any weapons you can reach, or pick up the backpacks that were shucked off at a moment's notice and get them together in a pile, preferably near the door you're going to retreat through, or advance through.  If necessary, assign a guard to watch it.  Outdoors, get on it and gather some of those animals that have been left to the side, or jumped from in the fight.  Those have got to be caught and brought back around.

Also outdoors, it wouldn't hurt to start clearing the ground to make a fire and a camp, if it's plain half the party will need to rest once the encounter is done.  Gather some firewood.  Find food.  Get out your water flasks.  Sometime in the near future I am hoping to install some dehydration rules ... so for gosh sakes, hydrate!  Cool down a little.  You're tired.

Underground, make some light; or find the lantern that's been set down, or the torch that's been in the hand of your lead fighter this whole time, and relieve the fighter of carrying it.  You can always add illumination ~ everyone knows you're here now, so there's no need to play it coy.  Get the room as brightly lit as you can, so when the search begins for secret doors, treasure, whatever, and when the bodies are being triaged, everyone can see clearly.  Obviously, rifle anything that's dead ... but it doesn't hurt to get things ready for use, like make-shift stretchers, bandages, picks and tools, manacles if anything is still alive ... take a few minutes and get stuff ready.

You can always walk on ahead for a few dozen yards, checking out a tunnel or carefully examining for traps.  Yes, that's a risk if you're low on hit points, but if you're drunk enough you might survive that trap.  Surely, you're not going to run into much that hasn't already run away from the fight or into it.  It doesn't hurt to carefully look around the next corner.  Keep a mirror for that if it makes your mage feel better.

If nothing else, you can keep up the chatter. The party may be fighting zombies or something non-intelligent, but a little anthropomorphized insult can't hurt.  "Come on, you beetle you.  You think you're gonna take us down?  Not in this lifetime!"  If you can't actually hurt something, or risk being hurt, you can always taunt.  Particularly the more intelligent creatures a few rounds before they actually go down. They might get mad enough that the DM has them lose their shit and get cut down in the process.  Could happen.  Depends on what you say.

There's really a lot to do. You could, you know, rest.  Fighting is hard work.

I'd like to build into the system an overheating feature for combat, so that having to rest was a thing; where deliberately holding yourself back from combat, when you weren't needed, was a good strategy for when the front line has to fall back and rest.

But we need rules for that, and as I am often told, rules are a bad thing.  Rules don't make anything fun.

Somehow, being able to fight or role-play incessantly, without limitations, without drawbacks, without consequences, without an evaluation of success vs. failure, sounds unbelievably boring, and anything but fun.


The player thought I was kidding.  I am not kidding.


James said...

Earlier in the combat, I meant to ask you what the rules for dragging an unconscious ally were, because I had wanted to drag one of the hirelings out of danger if possible. But I felt like I was asking a lot of questions, so I didn't ask.

Still, it does give a lot of food for thought. Even if I thought you were kidding at first.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Figure the weight of the prone body, then how much is actually applicable to the mover's encumbrance. If you pick the body up, and add 140 lbs to your own weight, because you're strong and able, that will tell you how fast you can move per round.

If you search firefighters you'll find comparisons like this:; I went looking for statistical comparatives for actual weight and couldn't find it, but those MUST be somewhere. Figure the percentage of body actually contributing to encumbrance, calculate it in and determine speed; then allow for possible injury because the body is being dragged.

Charles A said...

Good suggestions. Get people thinking beyond the combat stats/mechanics.

But as for mechanical combat things to do to help, do you have any system whereby throwing rocks at enemies still in melee would be a help? I sure wouldn't want to be in a swordfight with one person while another is chucking rocks at me. Some kind of distraction bonus?

In the abstract, that's always seemed like the obvious thing to do in that scenario, to me, anyway.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Rock throwing is a proficiency. See Using Found Objects as Weapons

Wandrille Duchemin said...

"I'd like to build into the system an overheating feature for combat, so that having to rest was a thing; where deliberately holding yourself back from combat, when you weren't needed, was a good strategy for when the front line has to fall back and rest."

Isn't that what the CLO system is for, or don't you use this anymore (I meant to ask this as my character enters in the 9-16 combat rounds range)?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yes, I am speaking of the CLO system; but I want to build it into a tracker that is easy to manage, that will register heat build up round by round. What I want is the scene where the fighter rips off his shirt, so he can fight one or two more rounds before he starts getting penalties.

Until I build the tracker, I've stopped accounting for CLO in the game. My first "test" earlier on in this campaign convinced me it needs tracking.

Vlad Malkav said...

Hello Alexis,
À plethora of very good posts and thoughts in recent posts, and a restart of the campaign to boot, that's great news ! (And the book, too)

On this last part, what form would this tracker have ? Excel page ? Did you start something ? Any thoughts ?
I'm looking for my next personal project, you see ... ;-)

Alexis Smolensk said...

I would create it in excel, of course, because this is the only way I know how to program.

I have had several people create projects based on ideas I've expressed, or rebuilt an excel file I've created into a program in a different format. My issue with these things has always been that they tend to work in an unfriendly manner and that they lack aesthetics. I am always trying to make the front of any excel file I create look attractive, as well as useful, with clear labelling and direct input and output data. I think programmers a lot smarter than me with programming tend to discount user experience most annoyingly.

As such, I must admit I'd prefer to make my own version.

Vlad Malkav said...

Well ... Can't say I don't understand. Speaking for me, there is a clear separation of roles in coding at work, and those working on ergonomics are not those creating the applications.
And when we create an application, we want it to work and be simple, not much thinking in how it can me "normal user"-friendly.

Anyway, best of luck with this project !

Wandrille Duchemin said...

Well, I wanted to play around with buttons on google spreadsheet and I made a tentative CLO accouting sheet.

The idea is to click on the "advance round" button (caution, a bunch of warning may appear the first time you click, because it will try to access an associated google script).
Doing so will change the "number of combat round": +1 if the character is not resting ; -1 if the character is resting (that's an overly simple rule for resting in combat, but one can elaborate later).
The damage per round will update according to this "number of combat round".

Does that look like what you're looking to make? If not, what would you change?

Alexis Smolensk said...


Let me admit, first, that I haven't looked at the CLO mechanics I proposed, and I can't remember them. I assume you did read them and that you've built your counter on those mechanics; I can't quibble with your numbers, and wouldn't, until I familiarized myself again with the original idea.

Of late, I've adapted rules that Tim, one of the contributors to the wiki, advanced, regarding dehydration. The rules are here:

From this, I see a system that eliminates the hit point reduction, instead using water loss as the playable variable. CLO + Exercise/Battle heats up the body, until the % of body water lost creates symptoms; the more people fight, the warmer the body's temperature, the more water lost, the more unpleasant the symptoms ... and because the dehydration is also recursive, the temperature has the potential to climb exponentially.

We'd want to encourage fighting in cooler temperatures. As the dehydration rules stand just now, however, perspiration loss per hour, at various temperatures, clearly doesn't take into account heavy labor. I need to determine how serious effort affects body water loss - hopefully very quickly, as that would make fighting a killer. I'm sure there's data, I just haven't looked for it.

Wandrille Duchemin said...

This looks like a biophysics/physiology exercice.

This website has, once again, some useful info (but one has to extrapolate a lot to go from what they propose to what we need).

Anyway, a quick and dirty way to do this would be to consider the current CLO system which can give a comfort temperature (by turning around the computation for the "ease" value).
The difference between comfort temperature and actual temperature is the amount of heat that should be diffused as (additional) sweat.

For example, when wearing hoses, chausses, shirt and hauberk, Rob has a CLO of 1.6, this means that his comfort temperature when dungeoneering would be 1.24°C. If he is in a 20°C environment, then the difference of 18.76°C.

I will interpret that as : he would be sweating as if he was in an environment 18.76°C hotter: 38.76°C.

That is from a pleasant (20°C) to a sweltering (38.76°C) environment, where you lose 2% of your precious water per hour.

So, after an hour of dungeoneering, you have to make pause and think about hydrating yourself. (Thankfully a typical cave would be at a cool 10°C, so our adventurer will be safe for a bit longer there).

For comparison this has an example where 90minute of mederate exercice at pleasant temp. causes a loss of 2% of body water.

Wandrille Duchemin said...

Sorry, small correction to the example I cite at the end : that is 4.5% of total water lost for 90 minutes of moderate intensity cycling.

If we take "moderate" as meaning about 15km/hour, I have some numbers that lists Judo (maybe a more accurate point of comparison for fighting) as exending about 3 times as much energy as that.