Author Topic: Simulating mass combat in FRUA  (Read 2239 times)

Offline vaustein

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Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« on: November 21, 2013, 05:35:58 AM »
While I've long forgotten the titles, a couple FRUA modules from a decade or so ago attempted to simulate mass combat. The best effort I saw was creating custom monsters with 2x icons illustrated to look like two soldiers walking in single file. Such monsters were given labels such as "Fighter Squad" with stats that purportedly summed up the individual stats of multiple soldiers.

Are there any modules that attempt to simulate mass combat rules in the FRUA engine? Or, has there been a need to simulate the impact of a single hero PC versus entire units of enemy grunts?

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2013, 07:03:08 AM »
Very interesting question. I saw the icons just before few days and i can't say i really like them. But maybe they could work actualy :) not really sure. I have been trying to run few adventures using battlesystem rules maybe that is something like it.

Offline Null Null

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2013, 01:29:26 PM »
Here are a couple of problems with that.

First of all, if half the squad is killed it still attacks at full strength. Of course if it's made of humans or humanoids it should have far less than full morale.

Second, you either make the squad immune to hold and charm attacks and so on or allow one attack to take down the whole squad (which makes even less sense).  (Mass Charm, which affects a given number of hit dice, actually still makes some sense in this context.)

Not that it's a terrible way of dealing with the 'armies of orcs' problem...I certainly don't have a better one...

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2013, 03:17:37 PM »
I am interested in this and i like the idea, though i am not sure about details. I probably would like to see a battle of armies in games. For spells, i guess for that example single charm could influnce the commander. Other combat spells would probably be easier to deal with. Anyway it could work for situations when high level character/characters is involved in bigger battles. For example Conan and some huge battle or Thorin and Battle of five armies.

Offline hans

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2013, 03:58:42 PM »
I think, generally, it would be preferable to do a string of combats, one right after another, as has sometimes been done, to provide the sense of fighting among vast groups of soldiers.  Giving the PCs help from friendly NPCs, on their side, and saying something or other about the fighting moving like a tide, will normally work best. 

Using a single, large icon with multiple figures in it, may be called upon if authors wish to simulate fighting foes in some sort of elite battle formation, or a group of foes operating a single weapon.

Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2013, 04:45:21 AM »
Nicely said. I probably might try something like that in the future.

Offline Ray

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2013, 09:17:09 AM »
I think, generally, it would be preferable to do a string of combats, one right after another, as has sometimes been done, to provide the sense of fighting among vast groups of soldiers.  Giving the PCs help from friendly NPCs, on their side, and saying something or other about the fighting moving like a tide, will normally work best. 

Using a single, large icon with multiple figures in it, may be called upon if authors wish to simulate fighting foes in some sort of elite battle formation, or a group of foes operating a single weapon.

I don't disagree at all.

For years, I used strings of combats, just as you describe here, Hans.

In the Final Diamond games (I'm thinking of Bloodstone and Dragonspear Castle), I know that I shifted over to the military-unit icons.  There were two reasons for this.  First, one of our artists put a ton of work into creating them, and I really wanted to see them get some use.  Those icons were beautifully done!

But second, there was once (back in the days of many people regularly playing games and providing ongoing feedback) a thread of criticism for the long-string-of-combats approach.  Reviewers went into bouts of frustration talking about how they were three combats in, and with only one to go found out about the horde of such-and-such that was still to come, and how did they know they were supposed to save an area-effect, and so forth.

These days, of course, there's just no telling whether any of that audience is even still around.  The tried and true million-combat-events approach is much more the staple of FRUA design. 

I do think it comes down to moderation, and telling a story that lets the player know just how deep into your string of combats they are, so they can hang onto that fireball if they need to...or really let loose if the time has come...   ;D


Offline Milos Gulan

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2013, 12:52:05 PM »
Swords of the iron legion might be interesting to do for FRUA also, it does have lots of battling, and has nice story that continues trough several adventures. I hope i will try Dragonspear too, that one i missed to run, for Bloodstone i don't know what to say i better try it too :).

Offline steve_mcdee

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2013, 06:27:45 PM »
You can always drop some hints that there are more battles to come. Like: "Even as you charge into battle, you see more waves of <insert opponent type> pouring over the ramparts" -- or whatever.

Offline hans

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2013, 02:06:57 PM »
You can always drop some hints that there are more battles to come. Like: "Even as you charge into battle, you see more waves of <insert opponent type> pouring over the ramparts" -- or whatever.
 

A good idea, in general. 

Sometimes, tho, I remember SSI's authors hitting me with unexpected chained combats, and I was more delighted than frustrated.  Even the frazzling finale of Pools of Darkness.  Of course, myself, I love to be challenged in combats, as it gives me sense of accomplishment (as if I'd done anything that actually matters).   :P

Offline vaustein

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2013, 01:36:09 PM »
The original Pools of Radiance used the "fight this group while the other groups queue up" narrative approach. I think Sokal Keep and the Fort Zhentarim, though it's been a while so I could be mistaken.

So, the consensus is that FRUA needs a hack that implements proper AD&D Battlesystem rules.  Until then, we're stuck with the chained-combat technique.

Offline Null Null

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2013, 04:24:36 PM »
Says the guy who played each Gold Box game too many times, and is happy to have this finally be of some use:

Chained combats were used in a few places. Generally, more than three were rare.

In POR, Sokal Keep was actually just a big fight (sensible as you probably had 1st-3rd level characters). The chained combats were in the Outpost of Zhentil Keep and the Buccaneer Base, where waves and waves of 0-levels would gradually include larger numbers of officers (2nd and 3rd level fighters) until the leaders showed up.

In Curse, Mogion and Co. were followed by Bits of Moander. These were significantly different fights in one, with the first fight being about suppressing spell casters and the second about holding or taking down with magic missiles, ice storms, and the Wand of Defoliation a few large combat-types (the MoBits).

In POD, a mix of monsters (basically, the hardest from each of the four major sections of the game) was followed by beholders, followed by another mix of monsters (these mostly bad-to-hit-in-combat types like Red Bits of Moander and Blue Bane Minions, the better to make parties use missile weapons, and Gothmenes, the final boss). The variety of monsters and combats (you had to fight the last without magic) probably kept it from getting boring.

Champions of Krynn had the gate guard fight at Kernen, which was up to 3 waves of draconians and sub-adult red dragons. There were a lot of places you could go around to decrease it, though, allowing you to reduce it to one small wave. You also had to fight three huge ancient red dragons after dispatching Myrtani (the big villain), which followed a fairly conventional mixed-enemies fight with a wipe-them-out-before-they-can-breathe fight. (This was actually pretty easy for a hasted knight with a dragonlance.)

Gateway had an extended chained-combat where you moved around on the map after battle was over. You could also avoid combat by escaping from the map (which was a way to get around fighting the final boss).

Treasures had something similar in terms of having extra enemies 'join the fight' throughout. It did have a traditional chained combat in terms of having the white dragon attack you at the end after fighting lots of human enemies. Again, the fights are different--in the first you're fireballing as many spellcasters as possible and taking down the fighters with Hold Spells, in the second you're hitting Freezefire before he can breathe.

OK, what do we get from all this for game design? We'd like to avoid large numbers of identical fights. If you're going to use chained combats, make sure each wave is different in terms of overall combat type, so the player doesn't get bored.


Offline hans

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Re: Simulating mass combat in FRUA
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2013, 09:17:16 PM »
Thanks, Null Null! 

Good memories and good advice.

Your list included several of my favorite GoldBox battles.  I think only the finale of POD pushed me into the frantic zone, as I would think to myself, "Surely, that's going to be it," at the end of each harrowing round.