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Old 12-23-2018, 11:18 PM   #1
Johnny Angel
 
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Default Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

"Rocket Tag" was a common term in some older editions of D&D to denote that higher level combats often devolved into a battle over who could landing the first meaningful attack; either a monster/PC would do effectively nothing with an attack to their adversary or an attack would outright kill (or disable) them. At a certain point, high level defenses and attacks became very binary varying between worthless and fight-ending.

Do you ever find that this (or something similar) becomes a problem in Dungeon Fantasy?



As a related question (and one which also comes from experience with other systems): Do you have advice for the GM who wants to keep DF characters grounded/tethered to the world around them?

What I mean is that I've been in campaigns in other games during which the players get to a point where they're aware that they can easily crush NPCs (such as the king's guards and etc). While the GM can "level up" the world around the players, doing so can be somewhat tiring and can lead to questions which break immersion.
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Old 12-23-2018, 11:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

It's certainly possible for DF to devolve into that, depending on choice of characters and adversaries. It's less certain to occur than in high tech GURPS.

If you want more grounded characters, don't run them at 250 points.
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Old 12-23-2018, 11:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

Interesting, I've never come across the term "rocket tag" in 35+ years of gaming...learn something new every day...
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Old 12-23-2018, 11:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
It's certainly possible for DF to devolve into that, depending on choice of characters and adversaries. It's less certain to occur than in high tech GURPS.

If you want more grounded characters, don't run them at 250 points.
Thanks for the input. I'll consider that and take a look at what that means for adjusting the power level of the world around them.

I'm not opposed to doing over-the-top stuff; heroes should (in my mind) be above average. Though I do desire for "above average" to still be within a certain general ballpark of the world around the characters. I haven't had long-term experience with DFRPG yet; I've been attempting to eyeball and mentally gauge if some of the challenges I've had while running other systems can be avoided with DF.
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Old 12-24-2018, 12:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

It's highly unlikely at 250 points.

It can occur, but PC side it's usually Wizards tossing out 18d Fireballs or some such as an Alpha Strike when they can't take it in return (and which pretty much completely taps them out). Or 'save or die' spells. Very few other PCs are going to be 'dropping bombs' so to speak.

As for monsters, just pay attention to what you're using. Yeah, some can outright wreck a PCs day, but a canny GM will spot it coming and either avoid it or cackle madly as the pack of Doomchildren in melee all go off at once...
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Old 12-24-2018, 02:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
It's highly unlikely at 250 points.
It's not that unlikely. Consider Redbone the Swift. He has DR 4 and 15 HP, so he'll be reduced to 0 HP by the average result of a 4d cutting attack or a 5d+2 crushing attack. He does 3d6+6, so among the foes that oneshot him on a successful attack are himself. Looking through monsters, the following basically only need one successful attack:
  • as-Sharak: fire breath is expected injury 14.5, so 0 hp half the time (and as a cone, probably just hits). Water and Sand aren't as high basic damage, but have a good chance of applying a status effect that takes him out of the fight (paralyzed or blinded).
  • Ciuacla: expected injury, including follow-up, is 16.
  • Crushroom: 4d probably doesn't directly reduce below 0 (expected injury 10), but it's a ST 40 grapple, and one round later it's a constriction attack with ST 40, which will one-shot most characters (vs Redbone, expected injury is 21)
  • Dragon: medium can do 4d+2 cutting or impaling 3x/round (expected injury 18).
  • Draug: 4d+2 cut, expected injury 18.
  • Giant Ape: 5d+3 crush, expected injury 16.5. Or it can grapple and follow up with a spike or squeeze.
  • Ice Wyrm: 4d+1 cutting bite, or breath weapon with paralysis effect.
  • Lich: it's a magery 6 spellcaster.
  • Peshkali: expected injury per hit is 14 -- but it attacks 6 times.
  • Siege Beast: expected injury 18.5
  • Stone Golem: maul expected 14.5, sword expected 18.75
  • Sword Spirit: sword expected 15
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Old 12-24-2018, 03:28 AM   #7
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Default Re: Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
It's highly unlikely at 250 points.

It can occur, but PC side it's usually Wizards tossing out 18d Fireballs or some such as an Alpha Strike when they can't take it in return (and which pretty much completely taps them out). Or 'save or die' spells. Very few other PCs are going to be 'dropping bombs' so to speak.

As for monsters, just pay attention to what you're using. Yeah, some can outright wreck a PCs day, but a canny GM will spot it coming and either avoid it or cackle madly as the pack of Doomchildren in melee all go off at once...
The difference I see between it occurring in fantasy versus a high-tech/modern game (as Anthony mentioned) is that a high-tech game with guns, cars, and etc exists in an at least a somewhat-shared ballpark of expectation. To most people, being hit by a high-speed car or a spray of machine gun fire is obviously dangerous. Similarly, building encounters around what 'makes sense' given the story generally puts the game within a general ballpark of expectation among the group when it comes to determining what actions should be taken.

In contrast, from the perspective of a player or their character, it's not always obvious in a more vertically-designed (i.e. linear levels, increasing +x magic items, and etc) what exactly a threat means. The level 1 kobold looks basically the same as the level 30 kobold; the numbers are just bigger. Similarly, the story might say the king's bodyguard is the most fierce fighter in the land, but one high-level PC easily wrecks the bodyguard and everyone else in the castle.

The main thing I'd like to avoid is getting into an arms race of +x and stacking numbers upon numbers. To some extent, given the nature of the genre, it's somewhat inevitable. But I would like to also encourage some breadth of play. Going to the dungeon and on adventures would still be the primary activity of a setting I have in mind, but it also heavily revolves around a city, so there may be opportunities for players to engage in non-combat activities on the side. My goal is to allow both the player who wants to play a combat powerhouse and the player who likes to invest in things such as allies and contacts to both be equally as useful.

Doing so has been a challenge in some other systems because the expectation (in those systems) is that a character of a particular level has certain numerical bonuses; spending character resources on anything else takes away from the ability to meet those expectations. By default, GURPS doesn't have those expectations by inherent design; I'm not yet experienced enough with Dungeon Fantasy to understand how heavily (if at all) the design behind adventures and creatures assumes similar expectations.

Last edited by Johnny Angel; 12-24-2018 at 03:52 AM. Reason: touched up some spelling
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Old 12-24-2018, 08:19 AM   #8
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Default Re: Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Angel View Post
"Rocket Tag" . . . either a monster/PC would do effectively nothing with an attack to their adversary or an attack would outright kill (or disable) them.

Around here, for the past 15 to 20-some years I've been around the GURPS community, we call that "swingy." GURPS combat is very "swingy."

Between "perfect health" and "dead," GURPS basically has two levels of injury: "seriously injured" and "about dead." Seriously injured is things like having a crippled arm or leg or being below 1/3 HP. About dead is having to roll every turn to remain conscious.

With damage usually being two to four six-sided dice, DR being around 4-8, and HP being around 12-16, that's just how it's going to be.

Against PC's, it's an issue for GM's. It really is. There's lots of ways around it for enemies, but it takes more effort for PC's.

Armor divisors are great, but it's hard to justify them for many battles, let alone most. I use them whenever I can; I just can't bring myself to give common giant rats AD teeth, for example. Cyclical venom (e.g., Acid Spider) is great for this issue as well, but if it's by bite, it has to be delivered, which means we're back to AD or high damage.

The best way to deal with it is to embrace it. It's how GURPS combat works. Real life combat is just as rarely the D&D "death by 1,000 cuts." Our "hit points," in the D&D sense, is often represented by blocks, dodges and parries. When everyone's on board with that, it's fine.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Angel View Post
Do you have advice for the GM who wants to keep DF characters grounded/tethered to the world around them?

What I mean is that I've been in campaigns in other games during which the players get to a point where they're aware that they can easily crush NPCs (such as the king's guards and etc). While the GM can "level up" the world around the players, doing so can be somewhat tiring and can lead to questions which break immersion.
In standard DF RPG/GURPS DF, "Town" and "Dungeon" are binary conditions. You can't beat up guards or kings or shop keeps. You can only interact in the way the rules state.

I've also found that meta gaming it is best. Otherwise, you'll just not get anything done. There will always be at least one player who simply must intimidate, threaten and outright attack regardless of the situation.

Otherwise, see the Caverntown supplement for GURPS DF.
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Old 12-24-2018, 10:56 AM   #9
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Default Re: Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
It's not that unlikely. Consider Redbone the Swift.
That guy's an outlier. And you'll note he isn't going to fall to his own attack, HT 14 will keep him on his feet.

So, that's hardly a "one-shot". But yeah, you can classify him as 250 points of Rocket Tag.

And I did mention "watch the monsters", but that's because they aren't "level coded" for ease of use.

But this is GURPS. All types of combat tend to be "swingy/rocket tag", not just DF.


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Originally Posted by Johnny Angel View Post
Similarly, the story might say the king's bodyguard is the most fierce fighter in the land, but one high-level PC easily wrecks the bodyguard and everyone else in the castle.
That's just poor bodyguard design... ;)

Quote:
Going to the dungeon and on adventures would still be the primary activity of a setting I have in mind, but it also heavily revolves around a city, so there may be opportunities for players to engage in non-combat activities on the side. My goal is to allow both the player who wants to play a combat powerhouse and the player who likes to invest in things such as allies and contacts to both be equally as useful.
Then I'd take a long hard look at teh DF templates and decide if that's really for you... or if you might want to start with a "lower level". Like say Henchmen out of DF 15.

It depends on what you want out of the gate? Do you want strong PCs capable of taking on a Liche and winning? Or should they be concerning themselves with kobold fodder and Orcs being about their match?


If it's the former, you want Big Damn Heroes, then go with DF but broaden out their background skills with some more Social skills, or just tell them to use their 5 quirk points on skills that aren't on their sheets (I just gave everyone 25 more points at start and let them take skills off Template if they wanted to, but I wanted Big Damn Heroes).

If you want to start low, then pick up DF 15 and use the Henchmen. Your Players might squawk at the "low level' Templates, and their general lack of regular competence (skills in the 12-14 range rather than 14-18 range), but with a steady diet of exp they'll get there fast. It also gives them more room to breathe as they grow, not having a niche they have to excel at means they can broaden out more rather than continuing to jack up that one thing their awesome at. Also, don't keep throwing foes that "only the strongest guy" can hurt, let your strong guy have plenty of crush fodder moments and he'll be less likely to keep power-jacking his damage and toughness.

Last edited by evileeyore; 12-24-2018 at 11:08 AM. Reason: Forgot I wanted to directly address Johnny.
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Old 12-24-2018, 11:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: Does DF ever suffer from "rocket tag"?

Due to the high HT scores monsters tend to have even a strapping half ogre weapon master is unlikely to put something down in a single blow unless vitals or skull for the penalty to major wound check
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