Asymetric Conflicts

I seem to remember reading about asymetric conflicts; where the PCs and the opposition have different goals, but I can’t find a reference to it.

For example, PCs versus a few Kobolds. The PCs choose a Capture conflict. The Kobolds do not have enough Might to Capture the PCs, so the Kobolds are attempting to Flee. Or to reverse it, the PCs are attempting to Flee from a Dragon that is trying to Kill them.

Is this actually a thing, or am I misrembering?

Asymmetric conflict goals are detailed one paragraph on p. 149. Basically, what you said: You can only have a goal that is within the limits of your Might in relation to your opponent’s. In a Kill conflict with a dragon, adventurers may need to choose to flee rather than kill, drive off or capture it. I assume that this works in both directions.

Along those lines: Can a group of 5 kobolds (Might 2 due to “Swarms”) which takes a point of dispo damage (becoming Might 1) continue in a Kill conflict, or must they change their conflict goal until they have recovered back up to a group size of 5?

Monsters don’t choose their conflict goals. Here’s how it works:

  • Players describe how they are interacting with the monsters and what their goals are in a narrative way
  • The GM selects the conflict mechanic that will resolve the conflict based on the player description (or rejects their description an implausible and they can revise it)
  • The conflict plays itself out
  • If the Players win, they get an outcome appropriate to the conflict, with compromises appropriate to the conflict
  • If the GM wins, then the players suffer consequences appropriate to the conflict with the exception that certain outcomes are restricted based on might and the GM can describe how that plays out.

Basically the asymmetry is just that you may be able to kill them even though they can’t kill you, or visa verse. If they win the kill conflict but aren’t sufficiently mighty, they don’t kill you and the GM can pick an appropriate alternative outcome, like you being driven off or captured (or left for dead with all conditions). Of course if you are injured then you are always vulnerable to death, even if it isn’t a kill conflict, so there’s that.

This is a good clarification.

On this topic, and I’m sure it’s been covered before, but:

If you’re injured, and get into a Kill conflict with kobolds, can they kill you? Or, even, “can you get yourself killed”? Does being Injured make you susceptible to kobold assassins, or do they still have to push you into traps or whatever?

I’d say that fighing kobolds counts as a physically dangerous activity. So yes, if you’re injured, they should be able to kill you.

If that’s the case, do you suppose that a party of Might3 PCs could kill an Injured dragon (since, apparently, monsters can gain conditions)?

If the GM is feeling generous… I suppose… but I thought it was the GM’s job to be as evil as possible in Torchbearer :slight_smile:

It’s entirely up to the GM when to invoke the rule of death by injury, so it’s not something that can be triggered or relied upon. As a GM I certainly wouldn’t permit that, unless you had some really good ideas about how to specifically aggravate those injuries in a potentially fatal way. Though you can’t even start a kill conflict with a dragon, so I’m not sure how you’d do that…

In this related thread Thor posted the following, which clears up the dragon question, I think, and also contains an example of an asymmetric conflict:

Nice search-fu

I think some of the confusion with asymmetrical Conflicts stems from the way Might works.

Like, a kobold can’t kill an adventurer, because of the might difference. Ok.

Does that mean that a kobold can never kill an adventurer, despite all common sense?
Does it mean that a kobold can never kill an adventurer in a stand-up fight?
Does it mean that a kobold can never kill an adventurer in a Conflict?
Does it mean that a kobold can never kill an adventurer in an opposed test?

If you’re injured, you can die fighting kobolds (right?), but do they kill you, or do you just hurt yourself and die?

Old-school says that what happens, happens, but there’s also the dice to consider.

Perhaps it’s just that a kobold can’t kill an adventurer as a result of the mechanics?

Just remember: kobolds don’t kill people, kobold bombs kill people. :wink:

You can die in a flee conflict with kobolds if you are injured.

The might limit only applies to types of conflicts and conflict outcomes that you (or they) can be affected by. So basically, #2 is correct. They can’t Kill you in the specific Kill Conflict sense. If you do nothing to stop them from killing you then they can slowly saw your head off with their dinky rusty knives. If you are captured and you fail to stop them from throwing you down a volcano, then you can die from that. But if you enter a kill conflict with them, they don’t have the might to finish you off, at best they can hope to drive you away or injure you.

The rule about dying from being injured is a completely separate issue. In that case, yes, you are dying from aggravating the wounds, but the kobolds can take some satisfaction in the fact that they were an important part of that aggravation.

Thanks for the reply. I guess, on some level, I know all of this stuff, but there’s this weird level between “well, it’s common sense” and “the rules work the way they do for a reason”. Obviously, if I got more actual play, I’d probably figure this stuff out on my own. Having run through “Under the House of the Three Squires” now, I’m sure I could do much better with whatever I run next. :slight_smile:

It’s tricky because in most rpgs the GM looks at the world from the perspective of the monsters and meets the players as a sort of narrative equal. Anything you can do I can do (better?). TB is truly asymmetrical, in that everything is from the perspective of the players. It’s their story and when the GM presents an obstacle to the players it is only how they react to it and what happens to them as a consequence that matters. Very ego-centric for the players, but then murder hobos are ego-centric people aren’t they?

Better still: they kill people and kobolds. It’s a very unbiased weapon!

Funny you should mention that. The last conflict I ran with kobolds was a Drive-Off, which was all of two actions long. The second action was Attack/Attack (with bombs). The players won with just 1 Dispo remaining.

Ooh! I just now realized that kobold bombs are total compromise-machines! The kobolds won’t win, but they’re definitely taking you with them.

My roommate and I are trying to wrap our heads around the system, as we’re planning on running it sometime soon. However, the Conflict rules are still giving us some trouble.

We get that each round, each side chooses 3 actions, and those actions are revealed one at a time, and the interplay of PC’s action vs. Monsters’ action determines who rolls what and how they get resolved, and what that does to each side’s Disposition.

What we don’t get is what happens when two sides have wildly differing goals. In the hypothetical example my friend and I were using to run through the system a bit, we had two PCs against a couple of Orcs. I’m trying to figure out what is the result when the PCs want to drive off the Orcs, but the Orcs want to kill the PCs (as they often do).

Is it also possible, for example, to run a conflict where the PCs are trying to deal with a hostile enemy they don’t necessarily want to kill? Such as trying to Convince a potentially powerful enemy that they mean them no harm, and would appreciate it if he would stop attacking them long enough to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement? Or is that sort of thing kind of outside the conflict mechanics?

– Ben

Hi, Ben.

Asymmetric conflicts are an edge case. Check the heading “Intent” on p. 67 – it doesn’t really matter what the Orcs in your example want,¹ it’s your players actions in-game that trigger a conflict and, together with the players’ intent, help you determine what kind of conflict it is.

If they encounter some orcs and try to drive them off with cries and kicks and waving of weapons, it’s a Drive-Off conflict; if they attack them and say things like “die you Orc scum!”, it’s probably a Kill conflict. If you’re not clear, ask them some question and figure out their intent. So, yes, what you describe is absolutely possible. In fact, it’s what the rules are made for. If your players try to reason with the Orcs, find out what they (the players!) want – trick the Orcs somehow? Convince them to let them pass? Then select a fitting conflict and write goals.

It’s all about the players and their characters. Monsters don’t choose conflict types and they don’t initiate conflicts, either. It may sound weird to you, but try it, it works wonderfully in actual play!

Hope that helps. Also, welcome to the forum!

¹ [Edit: Just to be clear – your monsters absolutely should want something. You need to give them motivations and goals if you want the game to sing – they just don’t get to choose conflict types.]