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Old 05-15-2019, 10:47 PM   #1
tbone
 
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Default Boomchildren

Over on the GURPS forum, there are a couple of threads discussing chain explosions and the Fragile disad. Which reminds me of something I wanted to ask here:

Before dropping doomchildren into a game, I want to see whether I understand how that whole explodey thing works with them.


1) Unnatural, etc.: Doomchildren are described as fragile and easily killed with one solid hit. But at HP 8 and no particular physical weakness, that needs to be a really big solid hit – at least 16 damage, possibly 24+. True, some DFRPG heroes can deliver that kind of wallop, but doesn't it seem doomchildren should they have the Unnatural trait, or even Fragile (Explosive)? (Fragile isn't listed among monster disads, though.)

Am I missing something obvious that makes them blow up more readily?

2) Explosion damage: Let me see if I have the mechanics right:

A doomchild explodes for 3d dam, like an Exploding Fireball spell, and delivers 1d cutting damage out to 5 yards. So:

Any character in the exploding monster's hex takes 3d damage. A character in an adjacent hex takes 3d/3 damage; two hexes distant, 3d/6; three hexes distant, 3d/9... out to 6 hexes distant, where (though it's very unlikely to matter) a character takes 3d/18 damage.

In addition, any character in the monster's hex, and everyone within 5 hexes (but not that PC six hexes distant), also takes 1d cutting damage (negated by Dodge, but no special rolls for "fragment TH", etc., just 1d cut for simplicity).

Sound right?

3) Knockback: Explosion damage doesn't inflict any extra knockback beyond the norm, correct? (Because it seems that'd be a fun special effect of exploding fireballs or doomchildren or grenades or whatever: more characters flying across the map, even when actual damage isn't all that high.)

4) Chain reactions: The idea of a chain reaction of exploding doomchildren is a fun one. But unless there's a missing "die at 0 HP" trait, it seems really unlikely to occur unless 'children are packed into the same hex. Has anyone actually seen a doomchildren chain explosion happen in play?

(I think I saw the idea come up in some older thread. Sounds fun to me, though perhaps there's no such intent in the creature design.)


So. Maybe I'll tweak this monster a bit so they explode more easily, with chain reactions possible too. And maybe boost knockback from the explosions, for more fun messiness. But before that, I appreciate any comments on whether the above understanding of RAW is correct. Thanks in advance –
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: Boomchildren

The older thread you're referring to may be a play report by me; I resolved all the meta questions by declaring the doomchildren to be mooks, literally killed by a single hit. Ugly bags of mostly nitroglycerine, with knives!

Yes, I did allow chain reactions, but I think I only considered shrapnel hits for that purpose. Something along those lines. My players developed a lot of respect for doomchildren after that.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: Boomchildren

I possess no special insights, but I reread the monster description and the pertinent rules in Exploits. Seems to me that you've got it right on all counts. I'll add a few specific notes below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
1) Unnatural, etc.: Doomchildren are described as fragile and easily killed with one solid hit. But at HP 8 and no particular physical weakness, that needs to be a really big solid hit – at least 16 damage, possibly 24+. True, some DFRPG heroes can deliver that kind of wallop, but doesn't it seem doomchildren should they have the Unnatural trait, or even Fragile (Explosive)? (Fragile isn't listed among monster disads, though.)

Am I missing something obvious that makes them blow up more readily?
I'm curious about this too. Seems to me that there's a 50% chance of death with 16-23 points of injury. That's a solid hit, but not an assured death. (If you use mortal wounds for foes, then the chance drops to 16%). If you use the “And Stay Down!” rules (Exploits, p. 86), then it works if you just say that they die at zero HP. But, as written, the rule doesn't suggest that the monsters are dead, just that they "cower, play dead, flee, or surrender," so this doesn't solve the problem. In my game I think I will say that they explode automatically at either zero or -8. This is not exactly a house rule since the monster description itself says that "one solid hit will kill them."

Quote:
4) Chain reactions: The idea of a chain reaction of exploding doomchildren is a fun one. But unless there's a missing "die at 0 HP" trait, it seems really unlikely to occur unless 'children are packed into the same hex.
Yeah, without death death at 0, a chain reaction is unlikely. Killing them at zero, though, is pretty nifty. Any doomchild within five hexes will take 1d cutting (plus potential explosion damage. Rolling a six would kill uninjured doomchildren. Doomchildren in the first hex out from an average 10 HP explosion would take 3 from the explosion plus the shrapnel, which would cause an explosion 50% of the time.

Edit: Going with 1 hit = death (as Bruno did) would definitely amp up the chain reaction potential!
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Old 05-16-2019, 02:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
... unless there's a missing "die at 0 HP" trait, it seems really unlikely to occur unless 'children are packed into the same hex.
I think the thing here is the Boomies come in swarms, and adventurers come in groups, so there's build up.

1. PCs see swarm of tiny scary dolls with big knives approaching.
2. PCs set up a defensive position, maybe launch some missiles that take a couple down without outright killing them.
3. Blastkiddies hit the front line, barb blows one up. This doesn't start a chain reaction instantly, but other kaboombaes (and some PCs) are injured by shrapnel and pressure. A couple of others are down.
4.a. In slow motion nightmare style, wizz, who has figured it out, starts shouting "NooooooooooooOOOO!"
4.b. Simultaneously, another fwakoomite gets ganked by the Theif, and its death explosion is enough to set off one of the down but not dead ones, which combusts another, which combined with previous damage sets off the whole lot. PC party eats a lot of kaboomiejuice and shrapnel.
5. Survivors make it SOP to kill all even vaguely similar monsters from a distance when possible.
6. GM reskins them as exploding ice weasels.

That's drama right there.

Last edited by martinl; 05-16-2019 at 02:12 PM. Reason: weasellinking
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Old 05-16-2019, 02:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: Boomchildren

I suspect the assumption is that Doomchildren will use the 'And Stay Down' rules, as either Fodder or Worthy, and thus either explode when hit, or explode when reduced to 0 hp.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: Boomchildren

These monsters should have low HP and very low HT. Then you give them something akin to “fragile explosive”. Having 1 HP, a single hit takes them to -1xHP and triggers the chance of explosion; the low HT makes them very likely to explode (increasing the chance of chain reactions). They could have ablative DR to become more resistant and capable of advancing towards their targets.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:24 PM   #7
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Default Re: Boomchildren

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
... literally killed by a single hit.
My group had some accidentally not die in combat (and this was the group where the Barbarian Ogress stomps them with her bare feet).

Basically we were in an area with fragile loot (tons of wine barrels) so the group leader shouted "Just hold them!", so Jednesa just held them (as they hacked and bite at her fingers and wrists to no avail). A barrel of wine had gone sour, so it was pried open and the leader said "Drown 'em!" The idea being if they exploded, the wine might reduce the fury of the detonation.


Even better. Drowning left us with a wet, stinky, dead Boombrat. So we get to see how much unexploded Boombrat corpses go for at the Sage's Guild...




Quote:
Originally Posted by martinl View Post
1. PCs see swarm of tiny scary dolls with big knives approaching.
No, no, no... not 'dolls'. Tiny, scary, babies with knives...


Then after a few adventures of Bombbabies making their lives misreable, they have to go sneak into an ancient Elven creche to, ahem, rescue treasure from the babysitters.

Though if you go the dolls route, when they eventually have to raid the Lost City of Doll Makers they will be paranoid...




Quote:
Originally Posted by Hide View Post
These monsters should have low HP and very low HT. Then you give them something akin to “fragile explosive”. Having 1 HP, a single hit takes them to -1xHP and triggers the chance of explosion; the low HT makes them very likely to explode (increasing the chance of chain reactions). They could have ablative DR to become more resistant and capable of advancing towards their targets.
I like them the way they are. They slip into CC, cripple the Scout, Thief, and/or Wizard (3d-2 cutting to a leg or six) and then explode in melee with someone and wound everyone.
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Last edited by evileeyore; 05-17-2019 at 05:07 PM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:36 AM   #8
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Default Re: Boomchildren

Thanks, all, for the thoughts. In short, it sounds easy enough to get more explodey fun: just make the little demonkids automatically blow up at -HP, or even HP 0. (Or for even more kaboom, let a major wound – or any wound – do the job.) Yeah, that weakens them quite a lot as individual monsters – but any GM knows the remedy for that. ("Moar doomchildren!")

But let me play demon's advocate for a second, and consider leaving these monsters as they are. Okay, as written, the little murder brats don't die all that easily, but that gives them more time to swarm the PCs, which itself will be amusing.

And if their explosions are too weak to reliably cause chain reactions, well, maybe that's OK. Maybe the intent of the design is simply that the explosions are a bonus surprise, not the key feature of the monster; that bizarrely powerful knife attack (Striking ST +10!!) is what these little Chuckys are meant to be all about. (It's not like the explosions will even matter than much in terms of actual PC damage; at DFRPG power levels, 1d cutting, and some distance-dependent fraction of 3d crushing, won't get past the DR of many PCs.)

I'll note too that a chain reaction of a half-dozen exploding kiddie demons sounds fun on paper - but for the GM, that's a half-dozen incidents of distance-dependent explosion damage, plus a half-dozen fragmentation damage rolls, each originating in a different hex and thus affecting different targets. . . . Sounds like a hassle to work out without some fudging.

So perhaps I'll just first play the demons as written, and see how it goes.


Even doing that, a few ideas come to mind as things that would be fun:

1) Smart PC tactics: Even if untouched doomchildren don't die (or chain-react) all that easily, wounded ones will. Smart PCs might want to focus on one 'child at a time, instead of beating on separate targets in the horde, to avoid creating lots of wounded demons that could explode and chain-react easily. Or maybe they would want to wound lots of 'children, in the hopes of taking out many with a chain reaction, if their DR can handle the booms. Either way, tactics could get interesting.

2) Smart demon tactics: Grapple! Grab a PC with one hand and stab with the other, or dogpile a PC into immobility and let another 'child do the knife work. The point: Grappling means "same hex", and even DFRPG heroes can't necessarily shrug off a full 3d explosion. Grappled PCs may have to stow their weapons and desperately work to pry the things off.

3) "Get it off me, it's gonna blow!": Unless I'm missing something, doomchildren can go unconscious like most any other being. That means a lot of 'children in a battle may end up KOed instead of blowing up. And that just doesn't feel right to me.

So here's an idea: How about death or KO causes a doomchild to blow up? That means 0 HP becomes the kaboom point; it just may take a second or few from there, until the hellbaby fails its HT roll. Imagine that at HP 0 or less, the 'child starts vibrating and smoking, letting PCs know that they have only a second or few to get away. . . .

4) "No, don't use fire!": To bring in more tactical play, it may be fun to specify some attack that readily causes explosions (fire? lightning?), and some attack that will let the PCs kill the demons with just a puff of smoke and no explosion (brain hit? silver? Deathtouch?). The PCs will probably need Hidden Lore, or hard-won experience, to learn these tactical tricks, though.

All right. These mürderkinder are starting to sound fun!
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:32 AM   #9
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All right. These mürderkinder are starting to sound fun!
They sure are! I love all your suggestions. Next rainy day I might playtest some big boombaby battles with my children. (I wonder how they'll react to child-sized demons? "Ooh! Sounds like recess!")
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Old 05-17-2019, 03:23 PM   #10
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But let me play demon's advocate for a second, and consider leaving these monsters as they are.
Huh. I hadn't noticed that they have Berserk. This is actually useful, because when berserk runs out (including falling unconsciousness) you have to reroll death rolls at normal HT, which means they probably blow up.
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