I was statting out an adventure recently and realized there’s a potential Conflict where it’s possible that only one side can initiate it.
The specific situation is this: a series of nearby towers, far enough away that they can’t be leaped by most characters but within missile range. I was planning on giving a group of possible opponents missile weapons and/or the ability to leap from tower to tower.
How would you handle this? Allow them to only engage in certain Conflicts (Flee, etc.), only engage in Drive Off or Kill with magic or ranged weapons, or just not design the encounter that way?
You can make up a conflict of your own desing for the situation. As the charchters are making their way from tower to tower, they have to find cover and run to avoid being hit by enemy arrows. The conflict could be initiated by the players as soon as they walk by this place.
why use the Conflict rules for this?
What would you suggest instead? Treat the situation more like a trap, perhaps?
That is what I would do. Trigger = character walks into the main deck. Health test to avoid being hit.
If the PCs are aware of the enemy you could do a Vs. Fighter test to see which side hits. I would avoid a Conflict unless more than one PC can participate with a missile weapon and the battle is important enough for a full blown Conflict. Are the PCs trying to prevent the enemy for escaping with an important captive? Or, is the enemy simply keeping watch and waiting to pick off intruders?
Why not? If the area mean something, it could be a good opportunity to make it as range and cover kind of conflict. I don’t think this the only way to cover the situation but still, made up conflicts are fun to do…
If neither side has the means of getting over to the enemy and both sides have easy access to cover or escape, it sounds like it would make more sense to handle this as a trap or versus test.
Have you provided a means for the players to get across, or have they come up with a plan or Good Idea to do so? If the players want to find a way to get across to engage their foes, this could likewise be some manner of versus test to make it over while avoiding the fire of their enemies.
Alternatively, you could weave it into the narrative of a conflict. Perhaps it’s simply assumed that successfully attacking means a character has managed to get across and start laying waste to foolish bow-wielders with their battle axe. Or perhaps you could require a successful maneuver to get the party into melee distance, with only ranged weapons or hurled stones (counts as unarmed/improvised?) working for offense until such time. The latter allows for the enemy to anticipate the move from the party, preparing an ambush (feint) when the party comes across!
If the enemies can leap across the boundary and engage the characters directly, it could then certainly be an ordinary conflict based on what the players choose to do. Have the foes hop between the towers as narrative in the conflict dictates.
I think it all depends on what your intentions are with this obstacle. Are the enemies just there to harass the players and give them trouble as they move through the area? Do they want to come across and try subduing the players when they see them? Might they be biding their time, waiting for a good opening to swoop in while the players are distracted or unprepared - bringing the conflict in as a Twist and thus limiting the options the players have to choose from, perhaps even only allowing a Flee as they are pelted by arrows, unable to defend themselves as they try to escape to cover, their foes only coming across once they are pinned down and helpless? Once you have a clear idea of what the objectives of your NPCs are in this situation and what options the players have, it should become more clear how to present the challenge.
Yup. Seems the simplest answer.