We ran into an odd gameplay artifact in our Torchbearer game.
We were in a Killing conflict with a bunch of giant rats, and were destroying them. Every once in a while, they’d do one or two points of disposition damage, but we’d always defend and get them right back. We weren’t in any danger of being one-shotted because both we had a magician with the arcane darts spell and an elf with a bow, so all our Attack, Maneuver, and Defend scripts were vs the rats Attacks. The only real danger was a Feint, but they had too few dice to do serious damage to us by the end.
So, we started deliberately hosing ourselves with traits to get checks. We got a LOT of checks, and I think couple of helping tests. The fight went on a long time, because we were charging up our batteries, and had no incentive to deliver a killing script.
Eventually we got bored, and finished them off, with no compromise.
Conflicts seem to lend themselves to this. In a normal test, it’s dangerous to use traits because each roll carries a twist or condition and takes up a turn. In a conflict, the stakes of each roll are much lower, especially since Defend lets you recover lost dispo, and there are many, many tests in a single turn. Bizarrely, conflicts to us rarely seem like high stakes dangerous conflicts, and we use them as a chance to recover from the punishing grind of single tests. Now, I imagine that would change if we ever got into, say, a conflict with a Dragon, but no conflict we’ve been in has ever hurt us as badly as our brief, two turn encounter with a Corpselight in a swamp, which frightened two of us, sickened the other two, and used up light and food.
Hmm, as a GM I might only allow reasonably novel applications of traits. If you tried to use Brash every round of combat for approximately the same thing, I would probably stop buying it. If I recall, once you break camp you lose any checks that you do have saved up, so while an easy conflict can be a boon for your next camp phase, it won’t leave you set for the rest of the dungeon. Likewise, you can only mark one test for advancement for any given skill in a conflict, even if you use it more than once, and even if you both pass and fail at various times. Since there are only two skills associated with any conflict, I don’t see a conflict as a huge way to advance skills… though you mentioned using checks for help advancement… can you do that in a conflict? I may have misinterpreted but I sort of got the impression that helping checks for advancement should be used in camp or in town, but I don’t recall it saying that specifically.
I guess I have two pieces of advice for the GM. Don’t go so easy on the players by giving them easy enemies, and when it looks like you are going to lose, script to try and get a compromise rather than to win. Attack until they’re injured then Feint until they finish you off. (Cruel, I know)
In the GM’s defense, it didn’t start out super easy. Something like 6 giant rats vs four adventurers, one of whom is injured. But each attack success got rid of a rat, and soon we had disarmed the rats of their lithe bodies and sharp teeth, and we had complete dice superiority. I think the GM was switching to your strategy of going for compromise rather than winning by the end, and then we pulled the plug.
I’m a fellow player in the game Countercheck was in.
Jovialbard, a party of four has a lot of traits, and it’s pretty easy to come up with a pretext to use them without really stretching things. Checks can’t be stored indefinitely, you’re right, but there’s no shortage of things to spend them on midway through an adventure.
Forever Feint is like a Prevent Defense, it prevents you from winning. If the GM wants to turn a lead/shot at a win into a loss? I guess, sounds kinda sucky (in a boring way) though to play at the table for everyone involved.
As for Checks, yeah it seems that Conflicts (against weak or on-the-ropes opponents) are the natural place to really make Check Hay. Even against stronger opponents because there are simply more rolls happening.
Good point. I could see you legitimately milking quite a few checks out of a conflict as it’s winding down but…
Exactly, I have a feeling that the next time a fight starts to wind down in your favor the GM is going to start throwing more feints earlier on and you won’t have the luxury of constantly defending yourself up to full disposition. You still might have a few good opportunities to get checks, but hopefully not as many if he uses that strategy to stop you from drawing the fight out.
Right, but they weren’t describing a scenario where the GM even had a chance of winning. The best the GM could do was force the players to wrap up the fight and ensure that their opponents at least get a compromise out of it. If you’re losing on dice and disposition you don’t really have a huge shot at a win unless you are killer at predicting your enemies moves, and it sounds like they had such a big lead that even if the GM predicted their moves perfectly, they still would have won.
The first was a kill conflict against a bunch of low-Nature undead; the players had lost two players and it looked like death was inevitable. However, they managed to inch ahead (barely), and knocked some of the undead out of the fight. A few Defends got them back up to full dispo, and the remaining undead could basically do very little about it. (Though as you say, Feint would at least have let him do a point or two of dispo damage.)
The second time was an experimental journey conflict hack, which ended with a low-nature ‘leg’ of the journey (plains or some such thing). This time, the players deliberately milked it to bits.
The third time was against the rats, the example that Countercheck was describing. Once the GM is down to a single rat, players are pretty safe (except against the Feint x3 option).
If they could damage the PC dispo why hadn’t they already, back when they had more dice?
I think I misunderstood the conversation as a whole, so my comment is more tangental. I too suspect that effective (AKA cruel) GM scripting is somewhat heavier on Feint than PC scripting. I seem to recall that from MG (it has been awhile) but more-so here since players can have reason to try drag things out, so helps remind the players to keep their Conflicts shorter next time.
More than that, it negates the defend, so they don’t get any disposition back and they take a little extra damage. If they were close to on the ropes at that point the GM could have even finished them off if they were predictable enough in scripting defends.
I’m sure this has been essentially answered by Fuseboy, but basically they did, and then the GM let them get away with scripting enough defends without scripting a feint that they got back to full disposition.
I imagine there weren’t a lot of Feints in the mix, but there definitely were lots of Attacks. Against low-nature opponents, however, these can really be neutralized with range (bows, attack magic) which turn mutual Attacks into versus tests.
Ah, so you were scripting it so that your archer and magician were usually the ones attacking and your fighter was usually the one defending? I have to wonder if that makes you a little more predictable, but then again you get the whole three actions scripted before you get to see who’s doing what and when, so maybe not. Good strategy then.
We had two good ranged attackers (one of whom was also a good maneuverer) and two good defenders (one of whom was also a good maneuverer). So we still had a fair bit of leeway to switch things up.
I think you’re right, jovialbard, that feinting often is a good GM tactic to drive fights to a conclusion. Interesting. The downside, unfortunately, is that this makes Attack even more dominant in the player’s arsenal than it is already. GM scripted Feint in the third exchange, but it was against our… attack, I think. And so we blew him away.