Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Differentiating humanoids

Okay, so, as those of you who know me are aware once upon a time your Auntie Rachel was a 4e player with the best of them. There are plenty of fine reasons I left it behind, but there were definitely elements of it that I like. One of the things I liked best from 4e (Heresy!) is that different humanoid monsters had traits or powers that helped to mechanically differentiate the tactics they used in a fight. I've never been the most tactical of minds so having these was useful to me because it gave me a clearly understandable reason to change up how I had groups of humanoids fight. To that end, I've tried to do something similar for each of them. They aren't strict conversions, but they mostly take inspiration from the ones in 4e 'cause I was satisfied with those. These are, of course, completely unplaytested. Bugbear Bugbears love nothing more than isolating their enemies to increase their fear. A bugbear gets a +4 bonus to attack rolls against an opponent that cannot see any allies or is separated from them by more than 10 feet. Giant A giant can grab a horse-sized or smaller opponent and squeeze or throw it. Squeezing works identically to a python's constriction. The giant can throw an opponent as far as he could a rock, dealing damage equal to the rock throw if he hits a hard surface, or half damage if he hits a soft surface. The giant can even throw an opponent at another opponent, dealing half damage to both. If you use a save for reducing falling damage, it applies to being thrown as well. Gnoll Gnolls are vicious pack fighters. Should a gnoll hit with a melee attack, it deals extra damage equal to the number of other gnolls within melee range of its target, to a maximum of +5. Goblin Goblins are cowards with only the barest concept of loyalty. A goblin can make a fighting withdrawal at full speed as long as its opponent is within melee range of at least one other hostile creature. Hobgoblins Hobgoblins are as disciplined as Goblins are cowardly. A hobgoblin gains a +1 bonus to AC for every hobgoblin that stands within 5 feet of it, to a maximum of +4. Kobold Kobolds always know when they're outmatched. If a melee attack misses a kobold, it can safely retreat at full speed. Lizardfolk and Troglodyte At least in BFRPG (I'd have to check others to be sure), there's already mechanical support for Lizardfolk and Troglodytes as ambush predators, because they surprise on 1-4 in 1d6 if they can hide in water or underground, respectively. I might expand that to sand as well in the case of lizardfolk, because I've had desert lizardfolk from time to time. Ogre An ogre's strength is such that it can sacrifice its +3 damage bonus in order to push a man-sized or smaller opponent 10 feet away or knock it prone. If the force of the blow results in an opponent being dashed against a hard surface (but not the floor), it deals 1d2 additional damage and the opponent must save vs. paralysis or be dazed and unable to act for one round. Orc Orcs are ferocious to the last. Upon being reduced to 0 HP, an orc can make one last attack before falling. These are just sort of me rolling ideas around in my head, I don't know if they're quite perfect yet.

1 comment:

JB said...

These mechanical elements would indeed appear to shade encounters towards particular tactics, making for more interesting fights (in compared to, say, a vanilla B/X game where all humanoids are clones of each other, distinguished only by hit point totals and attack/damage bonuses). However, isn't it a bit of a similar effect long term? All bugbears fight alike, for example.

[I will put aside the question of whether or not combat should be THE most interesting thing in a game]

Instead of tying tactics to individual monster types, would it have been more interesting to have a Big List of tactical proficiencies (i.e. specific combat bonuses) and allow them to be applied to ANY humanoid group? So you might have a tribe of "cowardly" bugbears or "well-disciplined" gnolls or goblins that are good "pack fighters." That would keep players on their toes (tactically speaking) and give them impetus to suss out a particular group's specialty (using sneak-thiefs and scrying, etc.) prior to engaging in battle.