Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Peter Mork © 2013

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

Welcome to the 176th edition of the Guild Companion. We lead off this month with an article that provides new options for using missile weapons in mass combat situations. This article augments the original rules for mass combat found in War Law. We then present a follow-on to "Fighting With Style" that introduces optional combat modifiers to handle a range of common scenarios, such as fighting on horseback or fighting on a pirate ship being tossed about by a kraken under the control of a mad lich (or maybe that's only common in my games). Finally, we present the fourth installment of our serial converting the Elven priests of Forgotten Realms to Channeling Companion format.

I've been watching a lot of Highlander recently, which has me thinking about how best to handle flashbacks in a role-playing game. Flashbacks provide a powerful technique for introducing backstory. However, they are not without peril. Well, actually, that's the biggest problem with flashbacks; they are without peril. We know the characters survived to the present day, so there's little threat of (permanent) death.

The easiest approach, I suppose, is simply to avoid any potentially lethal situations, but combat is a central component of many games.

Channeling Companion re-introduced fate points to Rolemaster. Fate points provide one way out of the conundrum. When a character would be killed in a flashback scene, that character can instead be knocked unconscious and a fate point (from the present) subtracted to reflect the character's brush with certain death. This approach ensures that "dying" in combat has negative repercussions.

A third option is not to use the standard combat system during flashbacks. Instead, the scene would be played out as a skill challenge (borrowing from D&D, fourth edition). A character would still roll an attack, adding his OB and subtracting the opponent's DB. But, the result would be treated as a maneuver, not an attack. Thus, the players would win the fight by accumulating enough successes before their opponents accumulate enough of their own. In the interest of simplicity, I would probably assess one failure every round (to reflect the opponents' actions) and declare the fight over (with the PCs losing) should the PCs accumulate a certain number of failures, either through their own ineptitude or the enemies' actions.

Please be warned that I haven't had a chance to playtest any of these ideas. I welcome your feedback on the forums!

Until next month, may all of your Large criticals be open-ended.
Peter Mork
General Editor