Enemy Hit Points in Conflicts

This has been a bit of a point of contention in my current campaign, with my reading of the conflict rules differing from my GM’s. How does enemy damage work? Obviously, any damage dealt to a player character in excess of their current hit points spills over to the other PCs participating in the conflict. In the past, when running the game or acting as a player, I have ruled that it works the same way for enemies - extra successes over their current hit points can spill over onto any enemy. However, my current GM has ruled, based on his reading of the errataed Eldritch Darts, that player successes do not roll over onto other enemies who are acting in the current conflict. How do you rule this?

That’s me. So this was how my previous GM played, and I like it because it discourages players from taking on hordes of even low might creatures without proper preparation, just as a Fight! in Burning Wheel might. Upon very carefully reviewing the wording of each section, in addition to the aforementioned errata, it seems like monsters should usually follow the same rules as PCs for taking disposition damage. I’m the monster team’s captain, it’s my decision who takes what damage, and the only real advantage Eldritch Darts’ battery modifier is providing is that it’s the player’s decision instead of mine.

But the rules refer very specifically to acting players (or monsters); those with scripted actions are actors, the rest are merely helpers–if even. It makes sense to me that helpers can take splash damage, but the actors? There are times where this makes sense within the fiction, but also times where it doesn’t make any sense at all. And what about non-helping monsters in the backline? Those who aren’t involved in the current roll, due to a difference in skills (if People) or nature?

The main reason why I’ve chosen to rule this way is because of the effects of Balefire and Eldritch Darts, which would bypass the inability to inflict harm upon distant or non-acting monsters. If there is no such inability, their value is seriously called into question–especially Balefire, which would be uniquely prohibited from affecting non-helping/non-acting characters.

After you take damage from your action, the rules say (page 69) that any ‘excess points are removed from another player (or players) selected by the conflict captain.’ I read that to also refer to the GM selecting and removing points from another opponent. I see nothing about the damage only going to those acting or helping the current roll.


@watergoesred has it. Damage spills over onto anyone involved in the conflict. It’s still hard to fight 20 kobolds, but it’s possible (if you can get a big roll right out of the gates to remove a lot of their help).

@Chalk Balefire is still good. Successful balefire against 20 kobolds (with one dispo each) will kill them all on the third round without the mage having to script carefully or roll against them (just rolling the flat balefire ob).

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Yeah Balefire breaks a key conflict rule: reducing opponents’ disposition without scripting an action.

That means that the players can script defensively, stupidly, whatever, and still make headway. And because the magician isn’t acting, they are much harder to remove from the conflict: only if a GM action has excess damage, the conflict captain decides to put it on the magician, and that’s enough to remove all their HP.

So that’s why Balefire has unique restrictions. Also the restriction presents some interesting tactical choices for the GM (or players if an NPC magician is casting it against them): get more dice from monsters helping each action, but expose those to Balefire; or reserve monsters from helping, but roll fewer dice. Without the restrictions, there would be no defence against Balefire; making it essentially a powerful but uninteresting tax.

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I don’t have my book at hand for an exact page reference, but there is a section on “boss” monsters that gives the GM more flexibility in assigning damage.


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