2020-04-18 The advantage of outnumbering others

As I’m running more sessions of Just Halberds, I’m starting to wonder about this 2d6 system of mine. In combat, as we’re rolling one exchange after another, always opposed 2d6 rolls, I’m realising: ten orcs with one hit each are absolutely equivalent to one orc with ten hits. I even stopped noting how many individuals were still left. My notes just said:

orcs ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡ +1 tough

But yesterday I was porting my old adventure over to this system. Originally, it was written of B/X, Labyrinth Lord, or Halberds & Helmets: 2014-01-02 Bryce Likes My Adventure. This is it:

I wasn’t always happy. What does it mean if you fight five trolls?

trolls ♡♡♡♡♡♡ ♡♡♡♡♡♡ ♡♡♡♡♡♡ ♡♡♡♡♡♡ ♡♡♡♡♡♡ ♡♡♡♡♡♡ +3 like stones

That is a lot of hits. As I moved on to the three wolves I started thinking about pack tactics. Wolves circle you, then one of them snaps at you and you scare it of, another one bites you from behind. Would that work for ten orcs, for five trolls?

Suddenly I’m thinking: if combat is a long sequence of opposed 2d6 rolls, then we’re doing cinematic fight choreography – no matter how many thugs are surrounding the protagonist, there is ever only one of them attacking, basically. In a way, it doesn’t matter: the protagonist is so good at fighting that they can control the fight such that the others don’t dare attack. Two and more attacking at the same time is rare. A superhero can beat back a hundred orcs if they can hold the gate. I guess that works for me. It’s good to know that this is the effect the rules have, though.

Or do they? Let me think. Let’s look at the most extreme case: the hero is only ever hit when the hero rolls a 2 and the opposition rolls a 12. For this extreme situation to do a minimum of damage, the hero must be getting +9 to their roll and the opposition a +0. The hero’s result is 11, the opposition’s result is 12, the difference is 1, and so the hero takes one damage. The chances for this result is 1 : 6⁴ or 1-in-1296. Assuming that the hero has 10 hits total (assuming they have 3 hits, heavy armour +2 and a shield +2, for example) then we’re going to assume that it the hero is going to succumb after having killed about 12960 members of the opposition. Worthy of the songs written about the 300 that held the Hot Gates.

Anyway, let’s return to the question of pack tactics and wolves. How about this deal: pack tactics is a special ability. Wolves have it. Two bad-ass fighting companions might have it. As long as somebody from your pack is still in the fight, all members of the pack get +1 to their attacks and their defence.

Going back to my monsters I’m wondering: who would have pack tactics?

Perhaps some humans would be too arrogant to use pack tactics? How about:

What do you think? We could also say that this is already factored into the monster descriptions and their bonus, in order to keep each monster on a line. Perhaps just expanding the wolf entry:



You could always handle pack attacks like Electric Bastionland: roll 1d6 for the pack, plus 1d6 for each individual member of the pack. Pick the highest d6, and add the two dice together.

Norbert Matausch 2020-04-22 16:39 UTC

Interesting idea. We’ll see whether this is necessary. “Roll multiple dice and pick the best one” has the benefit of limiting the range of results. I’m not sure I like it, though. I’ll report back when I run into more “outnumbering” issues at the table.

– Alex Schroeder 2020-04-23 08:19 UTC

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