Capturing goblins

The way group enemy disposition rules are written, it is easier on average to capture seven goblins than it is to run away from them, and continues to become easier to do that as the number of goblins increases. (i.e., you’d add the additional 6 to the 2 disposition for 8 for flee, but you’d only roll 6D + 3D nature for an average 4.5 added to 3 nature for capture for an average disposition 7.5, since it’s an untyped conflict. The disparity would only increase as more goblins are added).

I have to wonder if this ruling is intended. Why wouldn’t you roll dice for disposition for additional monsters in typed conflicts as well as untyped ones? Especially if the typed conflict is that monster’s weakness?

(Group disposition rules beginning p. 149)

You can run, but you can’t hide…

To capture them, all you really need to do is slaughter one or two very, very messily, and convince the others that they’re next unless they surrender. Getting away from a horde of angry goblins that know the tunnels better than you do, and see better in the dark? Not so easy.

Does my question make sense? For several of the monsters, it seems like capturing a group of them is easier to do than killing them or running away from them. Like tomb guardians or hobgoblins. Obviously, these conflict rules aren’t meant to simulate large scale combat, with 20 or more units on either side, but I’m just not sure how I feel about the ruling as written. Should capturing something ever be easier than killing it? Since you can kill it for free once it’s captured? Maybe that makes sense in certain contexts (the villains are frequently able to capture, but never able to kill, 1960’s Batman, for instance). I don’t know. Anybody have any thoughts?

I just picture the scenario where the GM says “There’s 10 hobgoblins in the next room” and the players say “Well, we want to kill them, but it’s way easier to capture them first (kill dispo: 17; capture dispo avg: 9), so we’ll try to capture them.”

Figuring out the best way to deal with a monster is part of the exploration of the game. GMs never tell players what the dispo numbers are before the conflict begins, but players will learn soon enough. They’ll discover that each creature has a weakness. That’s part of the fun of the game. Of course, discovering that a creature’s weakness is death…is no fun. Kill conflicts are routinely the worst choice. Characters die! It’s scary! In fact, it’s all too easy to suffer a TPK.

Also, I’d like to note that if your focus is on meeting opponents and slaying them, you’re perhaps accustomed to playing a different style of fantasy game. While death is always on the line in Torchbearer, this is a game about exploration and survival. We only kill when we have to.

Lastly, in defense of the prefigured dispos: They exist for a number of reasons, but an important one is that they’re incredibly easy for the GM to use. They take a tremendous amount of strain off the GM’s shoulders and making diving into a conflict quick and efficient.

I think capture means you put them into a situation where they are convinced that they will die if they don’t surrender. Whereas killing you corner them and fight them to the death. In other words, they won’t hold back if you are trying to kill them, they won’t give up and surrender, because they don’t have that luxury. Maybe after the first 9 disposition they would have been willing to surrender, but it’s past that, they see the blood in your eyes, and they’ll fight you to the death.

Also, you can’t automatically kill someone you’ve captured, I don’t think (same goes for them to you). You could disarm them, and then try a kill conflict now that they don’t have weapons and their arms are tied behind their back… so yeah, certainly easier… (though if I was a GM for a group that did that I might then change all future Hobgoblin capture conflicts to kill or pursue conflicts, if they’ve heard of you, because whether or not you are trying to fight to the death, they are certainly going to be, because they know what happens to those that surrender)

Well, re: Might:

Although certainly if it were a group some could try to escape or resist, and otherwise I agree. The simplicity in the preset disposition system means that there will be some quirks, which can either be explained as some of the above suggestions, or modified if desired.

Oh no! I’m disagreeing with Thor! Then again, I don’t feel too bad about it. I like the mechanic that you generally need to be injured or sick in order to die. One hit deaths always feel so anti-climactic. Yeah, it’s not very realistic to expect injury or sickness to precede death, but it is hollywood realistic, and that’s what I prefer in my high-stakes fantasy role-playing. However, injured and sick solve the problem anyway, because if you are injured and sick the GM can choose to have you die as a result of a failed test or conflict, even if it is by lowly kobolds. But yeah, I think one kobold successfully capturing a perfectly healthy adventurer alive wouldn’t get to kill him for free at my table (Unless I hear a really good argument after writing this). Likewise, I would give captured Hobgoblins a chance to escape if you tried to kill them, albeit with penalties for being unarmed and possibly bound. (a caveat: Unless it would be meaningless to play out the conflict and no good twists or story advancement could come out of it)

Except for kill conflicts, of course. Those will kill you plenty dead, right quick.

You might factor their real intent into the encounter in this sort of example, too, right? The players are just capturing the hobgoblins so they can line them up against the wall and put arrows in the backs of their heads, so their real intent is to kill the hobgoblins and the capture is just scene dressing. Maybe even include it in the RP.

PC: We demand their surrender.

GM: The leader glares at you suspiciously. “Human law, us, no. No jail hobgoblins. This trick!”

PC: What? Come on. How’d he know that?

GM: I guess he must have sensed your mortal intent. It looks like they’re gonna fight to the death.

PC: You suck. Give me the dice.

Yes, well, there’s that, though generally both parties have to agree that it’s a kill conflict. One of them could always choose to make it a Flee/Pursue conflict instead, right? (though I’m probably going to have to take another look at the rules for asymmetric goals to make sure I understand that correctly I suppose)

I’m sure it’s not going to make any kind of significant impact for the majority of cases. It just seems like an inconsistent method of determining group disposition. It certainly is simple and quick. I guess the pros of the ruling outweigh the potential cons, ultimately.