Help in Chases

It occurred to me that the sane response to meeting 20 orcs (or whatevers) would be to run, but running from 20 orcs would be nearly impossible because of the huge disposition and handfuls of helping dice they’d have.

Of course, to help you have to describe how you’re helping, and it might be hard to convincingly help in a chase. “Each of the orcs is pushing the one in front of it. The swift orcish conga line is heading right for you!”

What do you guys think about helping in chases, either in pursuit or in flight? What about disposition? Should it be harder to escape from 20 orcs than it is to escape from four?

Think about helping the group achieve its goal, not necessarily just helping the lead orc.

“The pack of orcs rapidly breaks up as they accelerate into a sprint. Contrary to what you might think, the fastest don’t pursue you directly. They fan out to your flanks and pace you with a glint of cruelty in their eyes.”

Reading Luke’s response, I might break the 20 orcs up into groups of 4 or 5 and force the group to evade each one separately.

If we’re talking about Orcs using the book example a Flee conflict would be 23 disposition and dice. Trying to trick/riddle them instead may be easier… 4+23D disposition comes out to 15-16 average and then a dice pool of 18-ish. In these situations you’re either gong to have to shoot for a compromise or try to avoid a conflict altogether.

If by that you mean force the adventurers into 4 or 5 conflicts, that seems harsh! Subjecting them to 4 or 5 sets of compromises? Ow!

I think the answer to that question defines how many orcs should be able to help. If the chase is outdoors, where 20 orcs can fan out and run the characters to ground, I say let 'em all help. (If you didn’t want to be rolling that many dice against the characters, why did you put 20 orcs there instead of 7 or 8?) If the chase is underground, in narrow tunnels where the dozen or so orcs not in the lead can’t materially contribute to the chase, have only the lead orcs help.

I’m posting from my phone so the rules aren’t in front of me, but if I recall correctly, you get stones/“hit points” in any conflict type, right? The orcs’ will be spread pretty thin, so as soon as the characters land successful Attacks, they’ll start outrunning orcs and reducing the number of helping dice arrayed against them. Sprint for your lives!


Note that there is already a too many cooks rule. If there’s more helpers than disposition, the excess are peeled off before the conflict starts.

I don’t think you’re asking too much to make it a conflict of multiple phases. It’s twenty on 4-5. You’re likely to lose no matter the format so break it up, make it exciting and give your players a chance. Maybe the first two conflicts are Flee, a third might be Riddle, and the last might be a Kill. And if you have time plot wise, maybe this takes place over a few days and the players even have a chance to camp.

I like the idea of making it situational, like Odie’s saying. Let the decision come from the fiction. I think if the orcs are all coming at the party from the same direction then I ought to keep the help really limited, but if the players have to “break through” the orcs (because they were captured or surrounded somehow) then the orcs can help each other a lot.

So Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli chasing the Uruk Hai who carried off Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers? I’d only let a couple orcs help the leader, to reflect having enough orcs to carry the hobbits without tiring.

Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves escaping the goblin warrens below the Misty Mountains in the Hobbit? Lots of the goblins can help every round because they’re all around the dwarves and they can delay them by blocking their way.

Also consider that those 20 orcs have a reason for why they are there, and it’s boring if the only reason is to kill adventurers. Chances are that all 20 orcs are not going to be involved in the chase, they probably have more important things to do. Now if you managed to enrage an entire warband of orcs to the point where they have nothing higher priority on their list than hunting you down, then yeah, that was dumb and now you get 20 orcs on your tail.

Honestly, I think that kind of thing would crop up all the time. The first time you pull a Drive Off on three orcs they should quite reasonably go find their friends and let them know that you’re in their base looting their stuff. If you’re still around when they come back, the obvious happens.

Which entirely fits with the “fantasy Vietnam” feel. Attack and fade away, don’t stand and fight.

My suggestion is that you as the GM must actually explain how they are helping with the chase, and be open to the fact that sometimes a group of people adds only one help die. i.e. “You guys go left, we’ll go right.”

In open field running, I don’t really see how people can help one another, even though they are still in the conflict,… which is why you can have the “horde of orcs chasing after the fleeing hobbit, but not catching him until he gets across the border of the elven lands”.