Combat example

The enemy lurks in shadows
CapnZapp
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This posted mostly to assure everyone that when I'm talking about 4E I'm basing it on actual play experience.

For example, last night the heroes stayed at an inn that was assaulted by Beastmen. (The layout of the inn was taken from Night of Blood; the explanation for the attack was taken from Karls & Scents)

There were twelve Ungor led by three Gor crashing through the 2nd story windows. Then three Bestigors and one Minotaur crashed the front entrance. (There were more Beastmen swarming about but they played no part in the battle).

The party consists of a Dwarf Pit Fighter, a Human Protagonist/Thief, a Human Spy with many personalities, a human Pedlar, and a Human Shadow Wizard posing as a Lawyer.

The Thief began out in the rain, on the roof of the coach shed. Thanks to great perception, he could raise the alarm and run into the main building. This gave enough time for everybody to wake up and equip themselves (except the dwarf foregoing his plate armor). The assault begun by Ungor climbing into the windows of the common room and the corridor.

While the Thief and Spy rather quickly dispatched each foe as it appeared, the top of the stairs were blocked off by all the fighting, trapping civilians trying to get away from the ground floor. The wizard prepared to shadowstep to safety but in the end that wasn't necessary. The pedlar struggled against her foes, and was saved first by a courageous sculptor NPC who stayed to fight, and then by the dwarf running to help killing Ungors left and right.

When the Minotaur broke the wall at the entrance, the Wizard Blasted them all (17 Damage to each of the four!), and then the Thief managed to acrobatically descend the peopled-filled stairs, and chop the three softened-up Bestigors to pieces.

The Dwarf threw himself out the window (leaving the last two Ungors to the Pedlar and her friend) to engage the Minotaur, and a great battle ensued. The player wasn't very lucky with the dice, and the fight lasted six rounds or more, before the Minotaur was the last enemy standing, and could finally be brought down.

The fight ended with the Pedlar very wounded (lost 12 out of 17 Wounds), and the Thief and Dwarf slightly wounded (6 and 10 Wounds lost respectively).

Here are my Beastmen stats:

12 x Ungor 35% Spear+6 TB 3 Wounds 12
This foe is pretty close to stock Bestiary

3 x Gor 45% Axe+7 TB 4 AP 1 Wounds 16
Already here we see a stronger foe than in the Bestiary

3x Bestigor
1st attack: 60% Greataxe+10 (Hack; Impact)
2nd attack: 50% Horns+6
TB 5 AP 2 Wounds 20
This foe is considerably more skilled than any Bestiary beastman

1x Minotaur
1st and 2nd attack: 70% Greataxe+12 (Damaging; Hack; Impact; Deathblow)
3rd attack: 80% Horns+8 and Bash
Parry -2 SL; Fear 1; TB 6 AP 3 Wounds 36
There's nothing even close to a foe of this caliber in the Bestiary

While the Pedlar (using Dagger+5) and to some extent the Spy (Sword+7) clearly struggles against even two Ungor (i.e. getting outnumbered), the Thief (two weapons, +9 and +8 I believe) routinely gets an effective attack score of 120% (80% base, +20% advantage, +10% magic, +10% various other) meaning he can hold himself rather well even against multiple Bestigor. His defense, however, is not nearly as strong as his offense, and he did suffer at least one axe wound. The Dwarf is a Gotrek-level combat monster with around 100% attack chance (Greataxe +11), various and multiple talents to do extra attacks, extra damage, not be outnumbered, steal advantage, and more. One of his greatest assets is reducing incoming damage by 14 which is outright twice that of the other party members. Even with only chain in this fight, he only lost half his Wounds even though the Minotaur caused 16-18 damage on multiple occasions. He would probably be able to kill all twelve Ungor all by himself without taking any regular damage. They have roughly 5500 XP.

The most important houserules include:
* You either have advantage or you don't. Advantage is +20%
* armor is less important: rolling doubles cause Special Hits not criticals, and they can't be negated by armor
* Criticals are simplified. Bleeding is rewritten. Having lost all your Wounds is made more deadly.
* Magic Points help meet Casting Numbers
Details for all or nearly all these can be found on these forums.
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totsuzenheni
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To be clear @CapnZapp, is this example of play an example of how combat should go, or an example of how combat shouldn't go?
habdankm
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@CapnZapp could you also post characters simplified stats? I'm learning wfrp 4th combat rules and would like to look at your example and compare with mine (low level stats characters).
Hteph
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I second this "To be clear @CapnZapp, is this example of play an example of how combat should go, or an example of how combat shouldn't go?".
I would like some thoughts and analysis to go with the example! As I'm still in gaming limbo I have to chance to test things out myself and have to hang on to others scraps until the tides turns (or something).
Zisse
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I understand that it went well for the party, maybe to well. He had already upped the stats of the beastmen and it is surprising that it still was relatively easy to beat them.

I have no 4e experience (due to missing VTT support), so I cannot judge, if this should be expected at 5500 XP.
CapnZapp
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habdankm wrote:
Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:50 am
@CapnZapp could you also post characters simplified stats? I'm learning wfrp 4th combat rules and would like to look at your example and compare with mine (low level stats characters).
If I led you to believe we are using a system that's simplified on a more general level, I beg your forgiveness. Apart from a specific set of houserules, we're using the full 4E ruleset.

(In fact, if I didn't use 4E mostly as-is, I would never have posted such strong judgement of it.)

I could see if I could summarize one of the characters' stats, though, if that would be of interest?
CapnZapp
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Hteph wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:06 am
I second this "To be clear @CapnZapp, is this example of play an example of how combat should go, or an example of how combat shouldn't go?".
I would like some thoughts and analysis to go with the example! As I'm still in gaming limbo I have to chance to test things out myself and have to hang on to others scraps until the tides turns (or something).
Okay, some general takeaway:

* The Bestiary is entirely and completely inadequate (but we all knew that already)
* The discrepancy between martial and civilian characters is alive and well in 4E (not that C7 claimed otherwise, or that WFRP should be like D&D)
* two-weapon fighting rules are cludgey as hell and still fail to meaningfully balance the fighting style against others - it's far too good
* the stats for greatweapons are written by a dev in a 2E mindset and fails to account for how 4E actually works. The result is a fighting style completely inferior to dual wielding. (Hint: a point or three of extra Damage is a minor benefit in 4E and not worth learning a specialist weapon group for (definitely not if the weapon is Tiring!)
* the general impression is that combat Talents were created in isolation, both from each other and compared to monsters and NPCs. The game allows characters to stack SL bonuses and other Talent benefits to ridiculous degrees. Wasn't this playtested? (And I'm sure it wasn't)
* the game completely fails to rein in the importance of armor. Heck, by the RAW armor is more overpowered than ever!
* I've complained about this before, but nearly every 4E rule is complicated, has many exceptions and is generally a pain in the arse to learn and use. Even Pathfinder 2 with its 600+ page rulebook comes across as more logical and easier to use!
* Skill is everything in 4E. Have skill and you nearly always hit with your attacks, do more damage, gain more advantage, do even more damage, and to top it off you seldom get hit yourself.
* In fact, almost every limitation Chris Pramas built into 2nd Edition (such as a limit on the number of parries and dodges you may make; how an off-hand weapon only provides an extra parry, not a full extra attack, relative unimportance of armor...) is either lost, circumvented, or just clumsily replaced. That's the difference between a veteran dev and a gaggle of rookies.
* The RAW Wizard gets an incredibly... raw... deal. Very few characters will experience being as kick-ass as my player's "Shadow Lawyer". Part of it is because of his experience; with several levels of the requisite Talents. But part of it is my introduction of Magic Points - aka "how to turn casters from a nightmare of sucking, to something that's actually fun to play".
CapnZapp
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Zisse wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:57 am
I understand that it went well for the party, maybe to well. He had already upped the stats of the beastmen and it is surprising that it still was relatively easy to beat them.

I have no 4e experience (due to missing VTT support), so I cannot judge, if this should be expected at 5500 XP.
Well, let's just say I wasn't entirely surprised. After all, I massively increased both the number and skill of the Beastmen because I know what the [s]characters[/s] dwarf are capable of.

Basically, with a Tier 4 dwarf fighter, the challenge for that player must be to keep his comrades alive, to win the fight without anyone (else) dying..

Not win the fight - that's almost a given. Given time, such a character is nearly unstoppable unless you throw multiple opponents with 100% skill at him, or maybe the very largest monsters (again with hefty bonuses compared to the feeble Bestiary stats).

All you can do is threaten his weaker allies. Or maybe use magic to transform the battleground (bury him under an avalanche for instance).
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Chuck
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CapnZapp wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:15 am
* The RAW Wizard gets an incredibly... raw... deal. Very few characters will experience being as kick-ass as my player's "Shadow Lawyer". Part of it is because of his experience; with several levels of the requisite Talents. But part of it is my introduction of Magic Points - aka "how to turn casters from a nightmare of sucking, to something that's actually fun to play".
Have you discussed Magic Points elsewhere? I’d be very interested in a whole post about this.
easl
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Zisse wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:57 am
I understand that it went well for the party, maybe to well. He had already upped the stats of the beastmen and it is surprising that it still was relatively easy to beat them.

I have no 4e experience (due to missing VTT support), so I cannot judge, if this should be expected at 5500 XP.
Yeah, the 5500 exp was my first thought for why he had to go way beyond the book's stat blocks. Quite aside from the question of whether the book's stat blocks are suitable even for beginning character opponents, you're always going to have to adjust up as your campaign advances. Or start adding in more opponents so the bad guys always get +30 outnumbering bonus for several rounds, even as their numbers are being decimated.

I guess the devs could've created some rules of thumb, like "use median PC WS or BS+10%" or something like that. But they didn't. And I'm guessing a GM like cap'nzapp doesn't need a heuristic for how to design higher level threats.
CapnZapp
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easl wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 12:51 pm
Yeah, the 5500 exp was my first thought for why he had to go way beyond the book's stat blocks. Quite aside from the question of whether the book's stat blocks are suitable even for beginning character opponents, you're always going to have to adjust up as your campaign advances. Or start adding in more opponents so the bad guys always get +30 outnumbering bonus for several rounds, even as their numbers are being decimated.

I guess the devs could've created some rules of thumb, like "use median PC WS or BS+10%" or something like that. But they didn't. And I'm guessing a GM like cap'nzapp doesn't need a heuristic for how to design higher level threats.
If we were discussing 2E, then 5500 xp is more than the system is built for and can support. I honestly have no idea what the C7 devs would say. They did make the experience cost table go further than the +50% increase or so where we're at (in the extreme cases).

I hope you're not using the argument "The book's monsters are fine except when you go to extremes like Zapp has".

It is entirely reasonable to expect a Bestiary to feature monsters of varying power levels. Having a Bestiary where even supposedly scary monsters still have scores of 30-50%, like the 4E Bestiary, doe not fulfil even the lowest expectations - it is outright FUBAR.
CapnZapp
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Chuck wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 10:17 am
Have you discussed Magic Points elsewhere? I’d be very interested in a whole post about this.
Tried using your forum's search, got the reply that "magic" and "points" are "too common" words and excluded from the search. :lol: :roll: Maybe using google site search?

Edit: yes, googling "magic points site:windsofchaos.com/forum" immediately took me to the relevant posts. Google wins again!

(PS. Feel free to ask questions - maybe best in one of those existing threads, Chuck)
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Chuck
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Google eh? Never heard of it.
easl
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CapnZapp wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 10:29 am
I hope you're not using the argument "The book's monsters are fine except when you go to extremes like Zapp has".
No, I'm saying that having to increase a limited number of opponent stats is a perfectly normal part of rpging for any game line not D&D sized. There's nothing unusual about a GM going "hmmm...well, the PC's have bumped their key stats by about 30% since we started playing...better bump the monster key stats by about 30% too". I think you did a good job on your encounter design. That you had to do such an encounter design rather than just pull monsters from a book isn't something I view as a killer problem of the core book. That's a pretty standard part of GM preparation work, not a failure of the system. At least IMO.
It is entirely reasonable to expect a Bestiary to feature monsters of varying power levels. Having a Bestiary where even supposedly scary monsters still have scores of 30-50%, like the 4E Bestiary, doe not fulfil even the lowest expectations - it is outright FUBAR.
I agree the stats in the bestiary are generally low even for starting combat-oriented characters. I don't know what was behind that decision. But I don't expect monster manuals; I expect a page of advice to GMs - based on playtesting and some good thought or analysis - on how to increase stats for higher-exp PCs.

I don't want sound curmudgeonly, so I'll say that I really appreciated your combat example. It sounds to me like you made a fun and challenging encounter for the party as a whole (even if the dwarf was never in serious danger of death). Like some of the other posters I'd love to see the PC's key stats. So thank you very much for posting it.
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Orin J.
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The stats in the book are incomplete- actual skills and talents aren't added yet, partly because they don't have anything to balance them against. this is the reason they're so terribly lacking, as skills and talents make for a huge part of the combat system. while not insurmountable for an experienced GM, i have my concerns about what newer group will do with them.
habdankm
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CapnZapp "I could see if I could summarize one of the characters' stats, though, if that would be of interest?"
Yes, I would love to see those "monsters" ;-) I'm always testing low-level stats, so that's why probably 4th edition with its mess, probably is ok-ish for me. But I didn't even consider 5000XP, as we barely make 500 ;-)
CapnZapp
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easl wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:43 pm
CapnZapp wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 10:29 am
I hope you're not using the argument "The book's monsters are fine except when you go to extremes like Zapp has".
No, I'm saying that having to increase a limited number of opponent stats is a perfectly normal part of rpging for any game line not D&D sized. There's nothing unusual about a GM going "hmmm...well, the PC's have bumped their key stats by about 30% since we started playing...better bump the monster key stats by about 30% too". I think you did a good job on your encounter design. That you had to do such an encounter design rather than just pull monsters from a book isn't something I view as a killer problem of the core book. That's a pretty standard part of GM preparation work, not a failure of the system. At least IMO.
It is entirely reasonable to expect a Bestiary to feature monsters of varying power levels. Having a Bestiary where even supposedly scary monsters still have scores of 30-50%, like the 4E Bestiary, doe not fulfil even the lowest expectations - it is outright FUBAR.
I agree the stats in the bestiary are generally low even for starting combat-oriented characters. I don't know what was behind that decision. But I don't expect monster manuals; I expect a page of advice to GMs - based on playtesting and some good thought or analysis - on how to increase stats for higher-exp PCs.

I don't want sound curmudgeonly, so I'll say that I really appreciated your combat example. It sounds to me like you made a fun and challenging encounter for the party as a whole (even if the dwarf was never in serious danger of death). Like some of the other posters I'd love to see the PC's key stats. So thank you very much for posting it.
I'm saying I have never seen such unusably weak stats in any other game with the budget and prominence that an edition of WFRP enjoys.

In other words, and here I'm going to sound curmudgeonly, what I'm saying is, if the 4E Bestiary isn't a catastrophic failure for you, then no Bestiary ever will be. And sorry, that's too low a bar for me. Nobody gets to relativise away faults like C7's by saying "having to increase a limited number of opponent stats is a perfectly normal part of rpging", which heavily implies C7's work isn't particularly worse than any other.

What they've done with the bestiary is basically only list the starting default array and hide it between slight randomization. Then they listed the talents that they felt a critter of that type could have.

That's could have, not what they did have. Basically it's as if you got a single stat for Human with 23% in everything and then every Talent in the book listed.

In other words, fucking useless. What you want and need are prebuilt generic monsters with all relevant Traits precalculated and rules referenced right in the stat block.

But it doesn't stop there. The person that wrote the Bestiary was clueless of 1) how the game works in actual play and 2) how powerful the various upgrades (advances, talents, etc) make player characters.

You basically can't have big, strong but clumsy monsters in 4E. If your Weapon Skill is 35%, nothing else matters: once the heroes have 60% or 70% or even higher in their Weapon Skill, the monster is helpless. Sure blind luck make it so they might score a hit just once in a while, but it never feels like a proper balanced combat.

It basically boils down to you hoping you kill the monster before dumb luck makes it roll well just when you roll badly.

For greater monsters, add the worst kind of rocket tag to this (thanks to the size rules), and that's what 4E offers. Unless you do what I felt I had to do - come up with my own stats from scratch, more or less.

Much simpler and therefore much better stats, I might add - none of this Traits overload nonsense. Just give each monster three or so special abilities, clearly list them right by the stat block, and then make sure the monster's skill is high enough to let it do the job it's there for: to provide a proper challenge for the heroes.

I don't mean to attack you personally. It's that its somewhat of a trigger for me when people excuse shitty design work. Have a nice day :)
CapnZapp
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Chuck wrote:
Sat Dec 14, 2019 11:18 am
Google eh? Never heard of it.
Why can't I like posts? :)




PS. Srsly though, did you have any questions? Did you find the posts? (Otherwise I'm gonna assume you're good)
Last edited by CapnZapp on Sun Dec 15, 2019 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
CapnZapp
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habdankm wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 8:41 am
CapnZapp "I could see if I could summarize one of the characters' stats, though, if that would be of interest?"
Yes, I would love to see those "monsters" ;-) I'm always testing low-level stats, so that's why probably 4th edition with its mess, probably is ok-ish for me. But I didn't even consider 5000XP, as we barely make 500 ;-)
Okay I'll see what I can do.

Watch this space.
OldPlayer
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Monster stats in the rule book do leave a lot to work on for the GM. I really don't see it as a problem however. It's part of the job.
Bumping the stats of a minotaur isn't hard. Finding new monster ideas isn't hard. Adjusting an encounter to the strength of your party isn't hard. You get the hang of it.

If your players enjoy power play then you need to answer in kind. Though D&D is better suited to power play by far.
But D&D doesn't have the WFRP amazingly colorful background !

Agree groups where players have a different idea about what they want their char to be/do can be an issue when it comes to fights.
But if a peddlar or a spy, even experienced ones, choose to follow a homicidal Pit fighter dwarf and high level mage into a fight... Well they better have a lot of fate points or be good at hidding :D
It's a more realistic world/system than D&D type of games.

At 5500 XP char with fighter/mage careers should be fighting chaos warriors and demons close to the chaos waste :twisted:
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