Range&Cover + melee ambush

This is my first time GM-ing a BW campaign and thus my first engagement with the subsystems. We have a situation coming up the next session with the PCs being ambushed and I would like to know how the experts would set it all up.

Situation at the farm: the players (a soldier, two hunters and a trades man) are assumingly walking straight up to the fence surrounding the farm. Amongst the trees behind them are two Crossbow men (at optimal range) waiting to get a clear shot. Inside the barn are four thugs ready to rush out and finish them off the moment the first arrow flies.

In my head the crossbow men will rain arrows down on the PCs and after a few second the thugs are rushing their way forcing the party into melee. And if the thugs are taken out, the PC will turn their attention to the crossbow men.

My initial idea was to handle it all with a Bloddy Versus test, but I couldn’t figure out how to handle the crossbow men. Are they just an Advantage die/dice to add to the thugs? And what about the initial shots taken by the crossbow men? Is that maybe a separate versus test, before the melee starts? And what about PCs that are not doing the fighting against the thugs? Should I them break it down in different BVs?

My second idea was to start off by entering Range&Cover and having the thugs manuever their way to the PSs as they are trying to get out of the way of the arrows coming from behind. But what happens with the incoming fire when the thugs and the PCs are in melee? Bonus dice as I enter the said Bloddy Versus?

Regarding Beliefs: getting a hold of the crossbow men are in a way part of the Beliefs for the PCs. But the thugs are very much not. And I’m not confident with the complete Fight! rules just yet. Sure, we could crunch us thru them but that would take too much time, I think.

I want a rather quick resolution, but enough space for all PCs to feel they are playing their part in getting hold of the crossbow men.

What to do, what to do?

What do the bad guys want?

Test the Party’s Observation (highest + help from the others, maybe Too Many Cooks, if you like) vs the Baddies’ Stealthy or Tactics. Success lets the party spot the ambush before/as it happens. You might play out a volley or three of Range and Cover. Failure means a Steel Test vs Surprise – I’d recommend running away screaming if they hesitate, as the crossbow-men will get a free shot on them before going into Range and Cover.

I’d probably have the thugs get in on the R&C from the get-go, especially if they were in on the Stealthy Test and lost. If not, I might have them get in on the action after the first exchange; that’s just cleaner. I’d offer to let the players break off into two teams if they want to split their targeting and let them decide amongst themselves who’s on which team. No changing teams, though, unless maybe they earn extra actions and pass a Command test.

One group getting the other Too Close to Shoot would call for a Bloody Vs to resolve it. If the crossbow-men are still up and unengaged, they can help their thugs; they gotta spend shots to do it, though.

You could also have the Steel Test result in capture, if that’s what the Baddies are going for. Unless our heroes run screaming, of course: “They catch you unawares. By the time your hands go to your weapons, you’re surrounded by hardened thugs, armed with [whatever] and crossbows. You throw down your arms and raise your hands in surrender.” I’d let them know that’s what Standing and Drooling, etc means before they decide how they hesitate.

You could also do it with a big ole Bloody Vs if you wanted. Passing the Stealthy test might let the crossbow-men help their fellows without risk of injury to themselves. Failure means that their ambush has been ruined and they must face the party for a round of Bloody Vs before the thugs – so far away – can get there to take the lead on the fighting. If the party manages to rout the successfully ambushing thugs, then they can hope to round up the crossbow-men with a rousing round of Range and Cover.

Either way, this set-up looks real rough: Your party is likely to be ambushed, by a more numerous force, with better and more diverse weaponry. They are likely to lose and have a solid chance of one of them being killed. Crossbows are nasty.

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And welcome to the forums!

We ran an ambush recently where the PCs were looking to bushwhack a unit of soldiers and take out the guy they were bodyguarding. The PCs had bows and the soldiers had spears, but the soldiers won the initial positioning test. So we went straight to Last Ditch Arrows—which did the job regardless. The whole ambush concluded in about a half dozen rolls.

Nice. Y’all ran that as a Fight!, with the initial positioning test being for engagement? (Rendered moot by getting shot up by Last Ditch Arrows?)

Yes. It was set up as an RnC that went straight to Fight (failed Tactics test). The last ditch arrows flew and then the assassins disengaged in positioning and ran. I enjoyed the way it went wrong for both sides.

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Thank you!

Sound like a lot of fun :slight_smile: Hopefully my players will be on the look out for trouble and avoid the ambush. But, you never know…

Thanks for the inspirations and good idéas!

We’ll see how the Stealthy vs Observation test goes and take it from there. But, y’all gave me some great advice on to resolve any upcoming mess :slight_smile:

Ah! You’re welcome!

How did it go!?

Well, the PCs went in a whole other direction and decided that whatever was at the farm were not of their interest. They never even left town…

But we got into another fight with some nasty abominations in which we used BV’s. That was great fun!