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Thread: Damage Tricks

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    Bugbear in the Playground
    Cealocanth's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Damage Tricks

    For tomorrow's gaming session I have two large encounters outside of the upcoming dungeon crawl. There's going to be one encounter that involves two small fishing boats coming into port carrying about 9 Hunting Wolves and their master, who will then proceed to attack the docks. The party will, of course, rush over there to see the monsters tearing apart the dock area and about 5 wounded ally soldiers cowering behind a barrier made of crates. Their job is to convince the soldiers to get back on their feet and continue fighting and a large battle will commence. I've worked the numbers out with balance and such.

    For the other encounter a summoning circle appears in which a balanced undead attack force will attack the area near the town's inner wall. Again, the party will go over there to find a variety of Undead, from Skeleton Soldiers, to Ghouls, to Zombies tearing apart the area and a group of wounded ally soldiers cowering behind a makeshift barrier. A large battle is sure to commence, and I have worked out the numbers as far as balance goes. It will be tough, but not impossible.

    Bottom line, I've got a couple of large battles coming up and I don't think I'll be able to keep track of 14 or so NPC's HP as well as the players in my head without making very loose estimates. Could some experienced DMs share some tricks they use to keep track of damage accurately?
    Currently RPG group playing: Endworld (D&D 5e. A Homebrewed post-apocalyptic supplement.)

    My campaign settings: Azura; 10,000 CE | The Frozen Seas | Bloodstones (Paleolithic Horror) | AEGIS - The School for Superhero Children | Iaphela (5e, Elder Scrolls)

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground

    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Default Re: Damage Tricks

    I guess you dont mean the monsters by this, but the soldiers ally.

    I usually dont bother much with them.
    I deal with them like I do for minions, but instead they are able to sustain X number of hits. It is quicker than trying to count HPS.
    When they attack the enemies, I dont roll damage... they deal damage like a minion (fix number) substracted from monster HPS if the players will face them... if not, I simply use the same rule for that monster (after X soldiers hit. they die).

    This cut a lot on bookkeeping and on dice rolling.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Flanking Position

    Default Re: Damage Tricks

    You're not trying to run the background combats at the same time right? You have starting values for each side once the PCs get there right?

    If you already have starting values for each, just apply average damage. The soldier deal 3 damage on every attack and they hit 2 out of 3 times for example.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Default Re: Damage Tricks

    Dekkah has some good ideas.

    Run the soldiers and lesser monsters like minions or super minions.

    If you go the 'super minion' route, allow the soldiers and lesser monsters to soak 2-4 hits before dying (your choice how many). Misses never subtract a hit. A critical hit outright kills them. They count as bloodied when they're at half their number of hits or less. Effects that bestow 5 + Monster Level or more HP, or allow the target to spend a healing surge restore a hit.

    Instead of rolling damage, have them always do average damage.

    If you want to add a little more complexity and better reward uses of dailies/encounters, you can have especially damaging attacks subtract more hits: for every additional 5 + Monster Level damage a source deals beyond the first at one time, another hit is subtracted from the super minion.

    Damage from effects and other non-hit, non-miss sources never deduct a hit unless they deal 5 + Monster Level damage per application of damage or more. For example, a zone that automatically deals 5 damage when a creature enters wouldn't deduct a hit from a level 1 super minion that enters it (it deals less than 5 + 1 damage), a zone that deals 10 damage would however.

    Regardless of whether you play them as minions or super minions, you may wish to further simplify them by limiting them to at-will attacks, and up to 1 triggered action and trait. Divide their experience yield by 4 (for minions) and 2 (for super minions).

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground

    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Atlantic Stand Time

    Default Re: Damage Tricks

    Another thing to consider which can work well if you are running these combats in person is to provide the allied soldiers with a little statblock similar to what a monster would have and allow each of your players to control one of these allies. This means that you don't have to look after their stats, your players would.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ettin in the Playground

    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Damage Tricks

    Without knowing more information it is hard to say for this but sometimes you can turn these situations into a sort of skill challenge during the standard combat.

    The players can spend actions (such as lighting fires or setting up barricades or spend an action to stop a minion from killing an npc in narrative) and use skills during the fight that have repercussions on how well the npcs do. Basically you allow the players to decide how well the npcs do depending on their success on the skill challenge. If the players succeed at the SC then the npcs do well and take only a few losses. If they lose then the npcs take large losses. If the party succeeds very well all npcs live and if they completely fail or ignore the skill challenge (it does not have to be mandatory) all npcs die.

    This way you do not have to worry about combat stats and locations of npcs and the enemies dealing with them, you only need to worry about the pcs and their enemies.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
    Garwain's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Re: Damage Tricks

    Keep the NPCs alive as long as the battle is tied. If PCs are winning, let a few NPC soldiers die.
    My personal folder is a graveyard of ideas, stuck in their dream phase.
    The "DM won't kill us" attitude is a bubble that sometimes needs to be bursted.
    There's an armor variant rule in UA that will drastically increase character survivability without completely bubble-wrapping them in plot invulnerability
    Throphies won:

    Avatar courtesy of Linklele

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