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Galen
2015-02-26, 04:20 PM
Here's a little something I came up with, and I thought the forum might enjoy. I call it, tentatively, The Straggler Rule.

Imagine a tense, back-and-forth combat, where the party faces fearsome, sneaky, and vicious enemies. Pretty cool, huh? Now, imagine the party is on its way to prevail, enemies are falling one by one, until only one ... familiar, right? The tense fight basically degrades into a mop-up operation, with everyone trying to finish off the last few goblins, zombies, wolves, or whatnot. So, I have decided that, when only a small handful of enemies remain - usually, just one enemy - and the party's victory is certain, I will just call upon a volunteer to quickly narrate to me how the rest of the combat goes. No more rolling dice, no more dealing damage, they will just describe how they are defeating the last Skeleton.

If the narration is awesome enough - the enemy dies, and combat ends. If I view it as too pedestrian - the last enemy still dies, but he gets in one last attack roll before dying. That's all. Opinions?

BWR
2015-02-26, 04:32 PM
So you just cut-scene defeating irrelevant enemies? I hate to break it to you but it's hardly a new idea.
Very useful for those of us who don't like pointless dice rolling, However, if you've already decided to cut-scene, no need to force your players to do any description. That's the DM's job, imo.

Galen
2015-02-26, 04:40 PM
no need to force your players to do any descriptionYou make me sad with the assumption I'm 'forcing' anyone. They, in fact, love it.

BootStrapTommy
2015-02-26, 04:43 PM
However, if you've already decided to cut-scene, no need to force your players to do any description. That's the DM's job, imo. His point is he's forcing the players to do some roleplaying, lest they take extra damage.

Which is better than simply cut-screens.

Segev
2015-02-26, 04:53 PM
Man, way to rain on somebody's parade. The OP is sharing a neat idea that occurred to him and works well at his table. I am grateful he did so, as that's what this board is about: discussing cool things.

If you've also got a similar system, cool. But that doesn't mean taunting him for even sharing his thoughts is in any way a good idea.

johnbragg
2015-02-26, 04:56 PM
His point is he's forcing letting the players do some roleplaying, lest they take extra damage.

I think that's more accurate. Sounds very cool.

xroads
2015-02-26, 05:12 PM
However, if you've already decided to cut-scene, no need to force your players to do any description. That's the DM's job, imo.

Iíve never had anyone complain when Iíve had players describe the ending. In fact, they tend to enjoy it. They describe it has being more cinematic and fun.

Only those players who are interested will step up. So theyíre hardly pressed upon.

As for being the DMís job, if that were the case, why play a role-playing game to begin with? If itís the DMís job to spin every facet of the story, then he might as well just tell a story around a campfire and leave the dice at home.

Tridax
2015-02-26, 05:22 PM
Oh, that's a good way of dealing with those pesky leftovers of an encounter. I never thought of it and my players either spent five minutes arguing on who should get the last hit and promptly failing their rolls or the monster simply escaped.

Of course this was before we transitioned from having game mechanics to a good ol' narrative with some dice rolls here and there. :smallredface:

Ceiling_Squid
2015-02-26, 05:24 PM
Iíve never had anyone complain when Iíve had players describe the ending. In fact, they tend to enjoy it. They describe it has being more cinematic and fun.

Only those players who are interested will step up. So theyíre hardly pressed upon.

As for being the DMís job, if that were the case, why play a role-playing game to begin with? If itís the DMís job to spin every facet of the story, then he might as well just tell a story around a campfire and leave the dice at home.

Agreed. I'm utterly confused by the thought that a player would take exception to being given the reins from time to time.

Complaining to the DM when being given such an opportunity by saying "But description is YOUR job!" seems outlandish. That'd be one hell of a passive participant.

BootStrapTommy
2015-02-26, 05:25 PM
Most of the time I have straggler's flee. It just means they can be used to reinforce an encounter later.

GorinichSerpant
2015-02-26, 06:15 PM
This is a neat idea, thanks for sharing it. In certain situation it may make sense for a straggler to get away which could be a simple check to see who reacts quicker the mook or the PC.

Sith_Happens
2015-02-26, 06:56 PM
It's definitely a great time-saving device, if nothing else. Personally, back when I played a Wizard in D&D 3.5 I somehow ended up having the magical ability IRL to always roll a critical hit whenever I decided that the last remaining enemy of a group wasn't worth another spell and consequently fired my crossbow instead,* so I'd be worried about the loss of those sorts of moments.:smallfrown:

* Which were literally the only times I even drew the thing after the first session, which made it all the more hilarious.

jaydubs
2015-02-26, 08:20 PM
I like the "narrate the irrelevant stragglers" rule. I dislike the "penalty if DM doesn't think it's cool enough" part of it.

Different people have different aesthetics. What's cool to one person can be silly or over the top to another. I guess the classic example is if you're playing a serious, no-nonsense character, and so your description is simple and to the point. Taking a hit because you didn't want to deviate from the character by doing something flashy seems counter-productive.

Overall though, it sounds like a fun way to wrap up fights.

Kaun
2015-02-26, 08:28 PM
I like it, hell i might use it this weekend.

I have definatly done similar things but it never occurred to me to let the players describe the culmination of the fight

Escapist
2015-02-26, 08:46 PM
That sounds like a great idea. I might just have to steal it.

Valameer
2015-02-26, 10:05 PM
I like it. Thanks for the good idea!

It sounds cinematic and fun.

hifidelity2
2015-02-27, 10:22 AM
Most of the time I have straggler's flee. It just means they can be used to reinforce an encounter later.

or have them surrender and then see how the party handle that - with some wanting to kill them out of hand and some wanting to "save" them

Admiral Squish
2015-02-27, 10:22 AM
Hmm. You know, whenever I run PBP games, whenever a player lands the killing blow on a monster, I try to get really cinematic with how the monster goes down.
Like, the barbarian doesn't just kill a zombie. Their mighty axe sweeps wide at hip-level, catching the undead abomination in the belly, the enchanted steel biting deep into necrotic flesh. The unliving creature feels no pain, staggering mindlessly on even as you tear your weapon free. As it lunges mindlessly once more, it's torso tips, like a felled tree, and slowly topples, the rot giving way as the thing's upper body falls off at the hips. Its legs take one, two, three steps, before they give out, collapsing to the cold stone floor. The upper half continues to grope and bite, mindlessly seeking to continue its task before the last of the negative energy animating the mockery flees its ruined body and it goes still.

I bet I could hybridize that idea with this one. Like, if a player scores a killing blow, they get the chance to describe how they finish it off in detail. I might even throw the main bit of the straggler rule in there, too, and let players volunteer to describe how they wipe out the stragglers. Now, it probably wouldn't work in a PBP game, since it would require too much back-and-forth posting, but I could certainly apply it to real-world games. They roll the hit that kills the creature, I point and say 'FINISH HIM', and they get to go wild. Maybe I could do something similar with crits, too...

Ashtagon
2015-02-27, 10:34 AM
Most of the time I have straggler's flee. It just means they can be used to reinforce an encounter later.

Pretty much this. Fighting till the last man drops is typical of insane berserkers, but not anyone or anything that has much sense of self-awareness and self-preservation.

Lord Torath
2015-02-27, 11:42 AM
I like the "narrate the irrelevant stragglers" rule. I dislike the "penalty if DM doesn't think it's cool enough" part of it.

Different people have different aesthetics. What's cool to one person can be silly or over the top to another. I guess the classic example is if you're playing a serious, no-nonsense character, and so your description is simple and to the point. Taking a hit because you didn't want to deviate from the character by doing something flashy seems counter-productive.

Overall though, it sounds like a fun way to wrap up fights.I think the "penalty" is that they have to continue the combat, risking further damage from the straggler, if they refuse to roleplay the last straggler's end. Not that the DM arbitrarily hits them with damage for not cooperating.Or I could actually read the last line of the OP to see what you're talking about. :smallredface:

I rather like this idea. I, too, like to remove the target's last hitpoints in epic manner (your arrow went right through his helmet's vision slit, killing him instantly) when the PCs finally take him down.

Galen
2015-02-27, 11:56 AM
Thank you for the comments, guys, let me address some of them.

His point is he's forcing the players to do some roleplaying, lest they take extra damage.As someone else noted, it's letting, not forcing. They can always choose to keep fighting by the rules instead.


I like the "narrate the irrelevant stragglers" rule. I dislike the "penalty if DM doesn't think it's cool enough" part of it. Ok, so let me clarify, I only do this when there is no real danger to kill or even drop a PC from the last instance of damage. The extra damage, if it occurs (and it occurs rarely), is more of a wink than a penalty. But, you know what, I can see why some might take exception. Sure, you can remove the damage-dealing part if that seems better for you.


Different people have different aesthetics. What's cool to one person can be silly or over the top to another. I guess the classic example is if you're playing a serious, no-nonsense character, and so your description is simple and to the point. Taking a hit because you didn't want to deviate from the character by doing something flashy seems counter-productive. That's a good point. I do try to take the persona into account. I once asked a very straightforward non-nonsense guy to narrate this. He took a die, rolled it, and said "I deal 11 damage to it". It was ... amusing in its own way.



I bet I could hybridize that idea with this one. Like, if a player scores a killing blow, they get the chance to describe how they finish it off in detail. I might even throw the main bit of the straggler rule in there, too, and let players volunteer to describe how they wipe out the stragglers. Now, it probably wouldn't work in a PBP game, since it would require too much back-and-forth posting, but I could certainly apply it to real-world games. They roll the hit that kills the creature, I point and say 'FINISH HIM', and they get to go wild. Maybe I could do something similar with crits, too...This is a great idea, now it's my turn to steal it!

BWR
2015-02-27, 12:22 PM
If your players like it, fine, but I generally dislike the idea that a group's ability to avoid taking damage depends on how good they are at coming up with cool flavor text on the fly rather than coming up with smart plans or correctly using the mechanics of the game. This really only tests their ability to quickly compose prose, not roleplaying ability.

With my groups players are responsible for their own characters and everything else is the GM's job - if the GM wants flashy battle prose, it's up to the GM to describe how it looks. Basically, this is to avoid stepping on the GM's toes by taking over the running of the world. If a player wants to describe how they do something, great, but the interpretation of mechanical interaction and communication of this to the group is the GM's job.

Ceiling_Squid
2015-02-27, 03:23 PM
If your players like it, fine, but I generally dislike the idea that a group's ability to avoid taking damage depends on how good they are at coming up with cool flavor text on the fly rather than coming up with smart plans or correctly using the mechanics of the game. This really only tests their ability to quickly compose prose, not roleplaying ability.

With my groups players are responsible for their own characters and everything else is the GM's job - if the GM wants flashy battle prose, it's up to the GM to describe how it looks. Basically, this is to avoid stepping on the GM's toes by taking over the running of the world. If a player wants to describe how they do something, great, but the interpretation of mechanical interaction and communication of this to the group is the GM's job.

Except in the OP's case, where the end of the battle is already a forgone conclusion. It's got no major impact beyond avoiding the chance of extra damage during mop-up rounds, which are generally dull, low-stakes affairs.

Also, both as a player and a GM, I absolutely love when people describe and compose their own "battle prose". It's one way to keep them active participants in the scene. Not a simulationist or even gamist viewpoint, I realize. Even playing stricter games like D&D, I still appreciate a little player-given flavor that falls in line with the combat roll, even just a brief sentence instead of a mere rote reading of the rolls.

I mean, you're free to rigidly stick to the GM-as-sole-interpreter notion, but I'm not going to lie when I say that I find that incredibly boring, because it only allows the players to interact with the action on a purely mechanical basis. A little descriptive input is engaging.

Your group's mileage may vary, I guess. It absolutely is perfectly valid, and probably the expected approach for most hard-ruled systems.

It might be part of why I'm veering towards looser systems like Edge of the Empire, where player-driven descriptive/narrative input is somewhat baked-into the rules. A lot of semi-structured back-and-forth with GM and players, even in combat.

Solaris
2015-02-27, 05:06 PM
or have them surrender and then see how the party handle that - with some wanting to kill them out of hand and some wanting to "save" them

That's what I do a lot of the time, especially if they're intelligent. Unintelligent creatures tend to run away.

Either way, the players get experience for defeating them. I don't penalize 'em just 'cause I don't want to sit through the last twenty minutes or so of mop-up.

Jay R
2015-02-28, 02:24 PM
It's an interesting idea, and I may save it to use occasionally. But unless the last few enemies are either idiots or fanatics, they will flee when they are clearly losing.

In fact, I've defined goblins in my universe as having almost no morale, and unless there's a leader behind them, they will flee almost any encounter. My players have eventually learned to aim at the leaders, not the front line.

Surrendering is also an option. The last survivor may have some useful clue he will trade for his life.