System / rules talks

I figure while we are still learning the system (which might be for the whole campaign..) it would be useful to have a page to discuss issues that come up in play, so we move towards more rules knowledge for all of us and conform rules with the different GMs. Thus, this page for questions, clarifications and discussions. Please use it!

Weron / question / And stay down!:
I just found that exploits page 86 has a discussion of different monster "power levels" (fodder, worthy foes and boss monsters) and how tough they should be to beat. "And stay down!" says to avoid fights that drag on, fodder should take from 1 HP of damage to a major wound to defeat, worthy foes from thresholds at 0 HP to -1xHP, while boss monsters should roll HT until death like PCs.
We fought fodder that were treated like boss monsters in this regard, and the single fight took the whole session. Of course we didn't know the system so there was a lot of learning going on which takes a lot of time.
It is also radically different how tough a fight is with the different settings. If one GM plays with fodder going down at 1 HP of damage, worthy foes at 0HP while another requires major wounds and -1xHP, or even boss monster level for everything, that's not fair. And the more tough it is, the less accessible the campaign is for less than perfectly optimized PCs.
- Question: What is the baseline for this campaign?
- Answer: It varies by encounter and by monster type, but your GM has exact instructions about this for every encounter. It's never quite as simple as fodder/worthy/boss, but we have taken steps to ensure consistency among the GMs. If a fight is unexpectedly tough, it may be because you're missing some crucial information about the situation.
Do not assume you're supposed to be able to win every fight in the dungeon without preparation or planning. Sometimes, your best move is to cut and run. Several groups met enemies they couldn't deal with and disengaged.
As for how long the fight took: we expect combat to take a while for the first month or so. One fight in a session is well within design perimeters for the first session of the campaign. As people get more familiar with the rules, turns will take less time. And as people get more familiar with how to fight effectively, combats will take fewer turns.
Weron Well. How am I as a player expected to approach this? "It's a swarm of monsters, they should go down in 1 hit? Oh no, they are all fighting to the death, fleeee." I don't know how the characters can mechanically flee when they start surrounded by enemies either. I do agree that our group had a mostly total lack of tactics and preparation, and should hopefully learn from the experience and adapt :)

Weron / question / attacks and hit location:
The monsters were always "attacking random hit location" without the GM declaring anything. This is contrary to what is stated in the rules and on the "prepared gear list" wiki page. I understand that this makes attacks more dangerous for no attack penalty, but it does slow down combat even more.
- Question: Is this a house rule for this campaign? Attacks targeting torso are just for PCs?
- Answer: The GM does not have to declare anything. The GM tells you what your characters perceive, not what the monsters are trying to do. Animals frequently attack whatever target presents itself, while trained combatants tend to go for center of mass (aka torso) shots, but this is far from universal. It's also dubious whether random locations make things more dangerous; it's originally an optional rule for reducing legality. An attack that would kill you in a single blow if it hit your torso can't deal more than your HP/2 if it hits your arm or leg; and 56.9% of random hits will hit a limb.
Weron: I strongly disagree with the "GM tells you what you see" approach. This is a mechanically tight system, if I want to play a storytelling system where the GM just says stuff, I will play something else. (For the record, our GM declared everything else as far as I could tell, so I had no problem with that.)
About the lethality of limb hits, they have special effects and crippling that are worse than torso. So I guess the lethality of low-damage hits increases, while the lethality of high-damage hits decreases. We happened to be up against a horde of something like 1d+3 damage creatures, so that biased my perception.
Rune: 1d+3 damage creature will have 50% chance of crippling a arm/leg; and 83.3% for a foot/hand, assuming no DR and 12 HP. Random hit location gives 31.1% of this happening. If you get +1 DR/+2 HP, it goes to to 22.2%, and +2 DR/4 HP becomes 13.3% chance. So if you can't stop the attacks, e.g. a lower parry/block/dodge than 12; expect a cripple every second, third or fifth hit with none, mild and moderate armor. And if you get crippled, it's only 25% chance of it being permanent or destroyed (based on 12 HT), which doubles the numbers of hit above. Assuming the bats goes with two hits, I would expect a crippled limb to happen in groups above the party size if no-one has AoE/Crowd Control.

Weron / rules / defense in close combat:
Exploits p51 states you cannot block in close combat. I did. But it also states you can retreat into all three hexes away from the enemy, contrary to the normal retreat rule that you can only retreat directly away. We were blocked from retreating several times because we thought we could only retreat directly away. And if you do retreat, you can active defense with anything as usual.
Rune: The DFRPG Combat Summary has the wording "step directly away", which could have contributed to the misconception I also had.

Weron / rules / facing and shield side.
Exploits p28 shows the facing diagram. I was disallowed blocking from the front right hex because my shield was in the left hand. This is incorrect. Exploits p47 Attacks from the side and back is clearly discussing the side and back hexes, not the 3 front hexes.
Jonas: Exploits p47: "If you have a ready shield or cloak, add its Defense Bonus (DB) to any Dodge, Parry, or Block roll against an attack that comes from your front or shield side." Overall yes mistakes were made but that can't be helped. Once players know which rules are important for them they can tell the GM if he is unsure.

Weron / rules / hit location face.
We played it that hits to the face were doing x4 damage to the brain. Exploits page 54 shows in picture and text of the different hit locations that skull and eye are the hit locations with brain damage while face gives a knockdown bonus and uses the critical table for head.

Weron / rules / critical hit damage.
We were applying critical hit multipliers as damage type modifiers like cut and impale, after DR. Exploits p100 Critical hit table states that "all doublings or triplings of damage refer to basic damage". Basic damage is damage before DR (exploits p52), so crits are a bit more dangerous than we played them.

- Answer: (for the last four points, none of which are questions) During a session, the GM's first and primary responsibility is to keep things moving. Nothing kills a game like cross-referencing rules every five minutes. A wrong ruling now is far better than a correct one after a ten minute pause in the action. Especially when a fight is already dragging on. Certainly, a good GM will make a note whenever he's unsure of something to look it up later and will strive to be more correct each time.

And corrections are welcome, so long as they come after the fact. Interrupting play to argue rules with the GM is just as disruptive as interrupting the game to look the rules up would have been. Rule Zero applies even when the GM is wrong: "The designers provide rules; the GM's word is law." (Exploits 80)
Weron: That's why I'm noting it here now, to learn for later. If we made these mistakes, it is likely other people do too, or just don't know what the rule is. I'm overall quite happy with our GM this session. Not that we didn't have arguments while playing also, but I don't think we had extremely long arguments :)
I know there is rule zero, the GM can do whatever he likes. I think the corresponding rule for players is rule -1: Any player is free to pick up his things and walk away.
Neither of these rules should be used excessively.

Jonas: One of the key points of the campaign was that we follow the rules in the book. Now the GM can just make rules up and change them? Or is this more of a case "if it takes too long to find the rules"? If the GM is wrong and I can quickly proof it will the proper rules be used? The key here is consistency among the GMs and game sessions. It can be very aggravating to have to follow one set of made up rules one week and a different one the next.
- Answer: Technically both, but mostly when it's a case of if it takes too long to find the rules. The key point is that the GMs can make whatever calls they want, not that they should. One of the things on the fixed agenda for GM meetings is discussing any rules we are uncertain about, specifically to make sure we're consistent going forwards. Some teething issues in the beginning is expected, but as everyone gets familiar with the rules they should get ironed out.

Weron And thanks for taking time to discuss and give good and serious answers.
PS: Weron is Martin N, playing Martos Silverbeard the dwarf cleric.

Sigve Hi, checked up the rules for knockback, knockdown and Diffuse enemies (And enemies without strength for that matter), Found out that you inflict knockback regardless of what kind of enemy your target is, What I managed and understand seems to lean towards that any creature that gets hit by the knockback and Knockdown effect need to do the relevant rolls, which in this case would be highest of DX, Acrobatics or Judo for Knockback and HT roll for knockdown. But in the case of knockdown homogeneous and Diffuse creatures need to be inflicted by an major wound to be effected by Knockdown since they dont get the normal affect for being bashed in the groin/skull, Unless there is something I am misunderstanding. Lastly the most important question here to ask thats relevant for knockback and diffuse enemies is, How do the resolution to see if knockback triggers or not happen? Since considering all non AoE/Explosive/Cone attacks only do max of 2 damage even if you roll like 19 damage, Would it trigger?1
Rune: I would assume only Major Wound could trigger knockback in this case.
Sigve: Odds are that you are correct but it still something I think should be clarified properly, Generally I will have to say that the limitations on how to deal proper damage or for that matter, even deal with diffuse enemies… Well lets just say we are going to need a lot more wizards if any party is going to make any significant progress if we begin find more any diffuse enemies, Especially if they got DR.

Suggestion: Make a Town Board on the Portsmouth page, this will be useful for players to post information to each others and can be used to distribute news from npcs and mark quests.

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Julian: I'll just add the town board myself, then somebody else can remove it later if they wish.

Suggestion: Give extra XP for contributions to the wiki.
There should be a limit, say max 1 XP for wiki-contributions per week.
Reason: Adding to the wiki is useful for all of us, so it makes sense to reward it.
You could specify that it's given only for contributions of some substance (so that just updating your character sheet isn't enough).

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