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Battle ideas

Battle ideas – June 18, 2010 7:44 PM (edited 6/18/10 3:44 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
My "weekly" players have been a little bit too relaxed in the frequency that we meet up lately, so I've decided to move our adventure temporarily to that gladiator style combat I've been kicking around recently. I doubt this will be how we end up, but until I can get things on track, these should be easy enough to run encapsulated. Anyway, to make this idea really work, I need to come up with some sizzling combats and I want to bounce the ideas I came up with off you guys.

What I'm thinking for my first week is a king of the hill type combat. The play field will just be large and rectangular. The monsters (goblins) start on one end, the players on the other. In the middle is a magic circle. When one person is standing in the middle of the magic circle, a translucent waist high ring appears with lots of buttons. Those buttons will allow the person to control a number of magical traps at their disposal. If two people are standing the middle of the circle, the control ring disappears.

So that's the hook I'm working with. What do you guys think? I'm looking for some more details to flesh this out some. For instance:
Should the field be plain, or have a lot of obstacles (random walls, pits, lava rivers?) in the way of getting the ring?
What kind of attacks should the ring be able to do? The players are 4th level.
- Lightning attack (1d8) against one player anywhere on the field
- Push attack burst 3 that moves everyone hit back 5 squares, maybe make prone as well?
- Maybe a one round daze/immobile attack?
- What should the action cost to activate an attack be? Move so they can do 2 attacks in one round?

I think players should have to roll DC 15 Dungeonering, Thievery, or Archana check to be able to perfectly use the machine. DC 10 to do random, but ally safe attacks. Anything less then 10 will be just totally random button mashing attacks. Players will be able to try and get information about the upcoming battle in the first part of the session in which case they could get plans for how to use the machine perfectly before the fight starts.

Re: Battle ideas – June 20, 2010 3:07 PM (edited 6/20/10 11:07 AM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
I'm entirely in favor of more interesting terrain, I think it always makes the difference between a good fight and a boring one. So I would totally put up some random walls, pits, lava rivers, etc. in order to spice it up a bit. I might even put a stationary monster or two that would potentially attack both sides (a roper, perhaps?)

I think what sort of action it is to activate is an important question. If it becomes a standard action then it's going to take up their primary attack. So if a ranged fighter takes the ring, they won't be able to use their real guns while activating the circle. Maybe you want that to be the case, but if so then it seems like the ring's powers need to be noticeably better than those the player would have.

Also, in 3.5 the fighter would be the one who would have the easiest time holding the circle, but probably the least well equipped to use it (based on the check mechanic you laid out, which I really like, btw).

As far as the attacks you laid out - if it's a standard action then the Lightning attack feels awfully weak to me. The daze attack feels about right, based on the fact that the daze attack is basically cancelling out one person from their team, but your team would still get whatever move actions you could pull off, so you're getting a slight edge as a reward for holding the circle. The push might be a bit overpowered, actually, though if it doesn't knock them prone than it might be ok.

I think you might have fun with it casting some spells that alter the environment a bit - raising walls, casting Entangle (if it still exists), that kind of thing. I think it might be more interesting this way (greater control over the battlefield) than as a source of specific attacks. Maybe it could turn off and on the traps that exist? So if your teamate has been pushed into the lava you want to control the circle in order to drain the lava?

I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo
Re: Battle ideas – June 21, 2010 6:51 PM (edited 6/21/10 2:51 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
I like the neutral monster idea. Maybe have it on a magical collar and the person who's holding the hill can direct it's attacks. A roper would be a good idea since it has a natural grapple which would keep people from the middle, but I just used one recently. I think Lions are traditional for gladiator fights, so I might go that route.

The idea behind making the attack a move was supposed to be an incentive for using the controls since you could do two attacks in one round. Which is also why the powers were a bit more mellow. Like the lightning was only 1d8 damage because you could do it twice in a round or do 1d8 damage and a daze, which make them more like encounter level powers you could do every round.

Also, the balancing aspect of the push attack would be that it hits allies and enemies alike. I was thinking the push would be an automatic effect, the knock prone would be a reflex attack. I think that attack needs the knock prone because a push of 5 squares won't quite clear someone far enough away from the circle to prevent them from regaining all that ground again (and then some) next round, but knocking them prone would.

The idea behind the skill check was to add some more randomness and strategerin' to who holds the middle, but I also wanted to make it clear that there are some very real benefits/consequences for what goes on before the fights. Obviously the main part of these sessions are going to be the fights, but I didn't want to minimize the role playing aspects either.

They don't have Entangle per say, but it would be simply re-written as a ranged burst, immobile till save ends. Possibly the more sophisticated version would make it a zone that can be maintained by the caster for a minor action, but I don't think a zone would work well as an attack from the hill. What do you think, go with entangle or the push mechanic? They both effectively do the same thing.

And just in terms of being able to control traps, what else would you expect? I guess it could have a power to create (or remove) a 6 square stone wall. I think there just might be a straight up ring of lava X squares around the hill. I don't know if I want players to be able to mess with that. The lightning attack was meant to be a kind of "arrows shoot from the wall!" kind of trap attack. Anything else?

Re: Battle ideas – June 22, 2010 5:17 PM (edited 6/22/10 1:17 PM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
Well, I don't want to get into a discussion of damage amounts, for the most part I don't feel I know 4E well enough, but d8 damage and a daze seems low for an encounter power to me, since most encounters would do Weapon + Attribute, so you could easily be looking at d8 +5 damage in addition to the effect.

As to other traps - like I said, I'm in favor of terrain altering things. I like the movable wall idea. I might also think about opening up pits under people? Though maybe that's getting too complicated, because then you have to give them a mechanic to get back.

I would seriously think about just flat out terrain manipulation though - raising squares up, lowering them . . . let them be things that supplement the characters' abilities.

Short of that, maybe things like grease puddles and such? Stuff that would complicate the terrain in a specific but long-lasting way?

I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo
Re: Battle ideas – June 22, 2010 6:19 PM (edited 6/22/10 2:19 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
I'm not entirely sure about what the damage should be either. I guess I'll have to look at what monsters of that level get and adjust it from there. It is a little underpowered from an encounter power, but it can also be used every turn. The reason I want at least one damaging power is I want people to have a very clear incentive to actively try to capture the hill. Strictly sticking to terrain altering effects might just end up griefing the players, but leaving them feeling it's not worth capturing.

So far the attacks I have down are (for a move action):
1) Arrows fire from the walls targeting a single player
Range 20 from any wall (effectively the entire arena)
+10 vs AC
1d10 damage (1d10 is a longbow's damage)

2) A ball of goo is fired from the magic ring, causing people to stick to the floor
Range 10 burst 3
+10 vs Ref
Immobile till save ends

3) Bolt of magic fires from the ring disorienting a single target
Range 10
+10 vs Will
Daze will end of next turn

4) Hurricane forces of wind burst forth from the ring pushing everyone away
Burst 5
+10 vs Fort
Push targets back 5 and knock prone

5) Stone walls shoot up from the ground, or are recalled.
Range 20 Wall 6 effect: Note - Walls cannot be placed within 3 squares from the magic ring
Stone walls 10 feet high can be climbed with DC 10 athletics check
Walls can be destroyed with 15 points of damage

6) Direct neutral enemy on field to attack a specific target. If not directed, neutral enemy will attack the closest target who is not in the magic ring. Randomly determine target if multiple targets are equidistant.

I think that's either enough abilities for the ring, or maybe even too many. What do you think about the balancing there?

So the other aspect of this gladiator style sessions is the crowd reaction. While they are in the pre-fight portion, the players won't have any equipment. They will get all their gear back for the fights though. I want to be able to reward the players for the battles, but obviously, random drops don't make sense. What I'm thinking is a fan tribute system. When players make attacks, they can try to get crowd support. The more crowd support they get during the fight, the better the equipment the players get donated to them by the fans for the next fight.

The idea is to kind of incorporate an Exalted stunt system for fun and profit. Players giving a good, exciting description of their attack will get +1 fan support. Players utilizing the specific aspects of the battle arena will get +2 support. Players can spend an action, specifically rallying the crowd for +1, +2, or +3 depending on whether they spend a minor, move, or standard to do it. Repeating the same action won't get the players anything. Repeating twice might take away crowd support as people are getting bored. Doing things the crowd doesn't like (such as subduing an opponent instead of killing) might also take away crowd support.

At the end, I'll tally up how much crowd support the players gained, and give them magic items based on that. I'm thinking 1 magic level of item per crowd support point they get. I can give the players a golf handicap, so they don't start the fights even. For instance, they're starting as the new people are going to be vilified for the crimes that put them in these battles to start with, so they will start with a negative crowd support. As the fights go on, they can turn their image around, become a crowd favorite, and go into fights starting with a positive crowd support total. This will let me adjust the amount of magic items they get as they level up.

Re: Battle ideas – June 22, 2010 6:25 PM (edited 6/22/10 2:25 PM)
Balerion (1224 posts) Elite Powergamer
Rating: Not Rated
I'm heading out for the day now, but regarding the crowd - I think Gabe ran a gladiator style combat and had some good crowd effect mechanics, might want to take a look. I think they were very similar to what you just described though. I'll think about balance and get back to you, but I still think you need someone who is not me to do that part Smile

I really think the three “!”s really captures the exuberance that Clair must have been feeling when he almost said it. -Cuzzo
Re: Battle ideas – June 22, 2010 7:11 PM (edited 6/22/10 3:11 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
I'm not familiar enough with 4E to really give you much specific balance advice, but there are two sections of the DMG I'd take a look at if I were you. The first is the "Additional Rules" section of chapter 3 (page 42 in the first printing), specifically the Difficulty Class and Damage By Level table. I'd use this for determining the damage of the abilities, based on Normal Damage Expressions. For level 4, that would mean 1d6+4, 1d10+4, of 2d8+4 damage.

For the rest, I'd take a look at the Traps and Hazards section of chapter 5. I'm not sure if they explicitly give attack bonus recommendations anywhere, but for level 4 traps the standard seems to be +9 vs. AC, or +7 against any other defense. This seems like a pretty good starting point for determining your effects' attack bonuses.

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
Re: Battle ideas – June 22, 2010 7:18 PM (edited 6/22/10 3:18 PM)
Cuzzdog (1522 posts) Head of Gamer Corner R&D
Rating: Not Rated
Cool. I should of thought to lower the attack bonus for the non AC attacks. I also think I'll keep the damage at just 1d10 since it's only a move action to pull off. So, the upper range of damage there (2d8 + 4) is doing between 6 and 20 damage, and mine would be the possibility of 2 to 20 damage. I guess I'm comfortable with that.

I'll have to brush up on the DM pages you pointed out. Thanks!

Re: Battle ideas – June 22, 2010 7:20 PM (edited 6/22/10 3:20 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
Yeah, after thinking about it a bit I came to the same conclusion, 1d10 is a very good damage number for something that can be used once or twice.

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
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