Back with another question, after actually starting our main campaign. We are slowly getting the hang of it together and trying to do the system justice. We are, as I guess a lot of people who come here are, experienced with RPGs but new to a lot of the thinking in The Burning Wheel.
As the GM, I have a situation coming up in the next session I’ve been pondering. The basic setup: The party approaches a mine taken over by a group of rebels, since they need to get down there to examine odd dwarven ruins. The players could of course handle this in a lot of ways, including approaching stealthily, but my bet is they will walk up the road and confront the rebels, especially since the rebels have posted a lookout.
Now, for my question. The scene will probably be set with the leader of the rebels facing down the party in a fairly narrow ravine, with a couple of his underlings taking cover behind him with melee weapons equipped and a couple more placed up on the cliff-sides with bows. This will hopefully lead to a DoW and be resolved peacefully, but knowing my players they might choose a more violent route (before or after the parley). How do we handle this confrontation? There is a fair distance between the groups, but nothing that could not be covered rather quickly, but how to handle the two rebels with bows? As far as I can tell, mixing Fight! and Range and Cover is hard because of different time frames. Using Fight! makes me wonder how exactly to handle the rebel archers.
You’re the GM, so you frame the action. Set the scene at a distance. The Bandit Chief won’t come closer than 20 paces (if he thinks there is ill intent in the air). Talk from that distance. Roleplay having to raise your voice. Once the shit starts to fly, have the Chief retreat to cover and safety while his men go to work. The R&C is against the bowmen. The goal is to move to close quarters with the Chief—maybe they have to successfully close twice without withdrawing or failing a Steel test. If they can do this, then move to Fight. The bowmen will rain down about once an exchange and obviously have the advantage for their bows if they start in a defensive position.
What about using the Bloody Versus rules?
I found myself in a quite similar situation yesterday, and as soon as the orc archers joined the Fight I asked my players to switch to the BV: everything went just fine, allowing us to solve the combat quickly and neatly.
Two valid suggestions, though, although I think there might be a few too many people involved in this case to use a Versus test.
Luke, thanks for the suggestions! It’s all taking shape in my mind now, which is what I needed. Basically a RAC at pretty close range, where one successful close/charge will turn it into Fight!. I suspect the rebel opponents will try a couple of “maintain” actions and let their archers pepper the PCs with arrows while backing off, and then a Hold as they run out of room for their retreat. That is, of course, unless the players get crafty and start holding off themselves and using their ranged weapons…