*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 09, 2022, 08:19:47 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 75 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: [& Sword] How would you do a mass combat?  (Read 10106 times)
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« on: September 23, 2006, 08:53:29 PM »

I borrowed Sorceror & Sword off a friend earlier this week, and I'm reading my way through the literature suggestions at the moment.

Bloodstone was excellent - Kane is very much a sorceror, but Dribeck and Teres seem very much his equal in terms of protagonism (if not in power).

Tomoe Gozen, I just started last night but I'm loving it.

In both books, large combats between armies play a significant role. It seems to be a real staple of the genre, and I'm wondering how to represent that in terms of using the Sorceror resolution system. I guess it could be a simple opposed roll between two relevant abilities (if it's not too dramatic a battle), but if you want to use the combat / extended conflict system, how would you go about that?

For example, in Bloodstone, we have the Breiman army trying to cross a river.  They are commanded by THE WOLF, and his daughter TERES. There's a bunch of engineers trying to build a pontoon bridge, archers and an army.

On the other side, we have the defending Selonari army, lead by DRIBECK, who has KANE (a sorceror) at his side.  They have a 3000 strong army, archers, and a hidden unit of cavalry commanded by RISTKEN.

Is this simply handled as a combat between these figures of note (in CAPS), or is there another, cooler way to do things?
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2006, 05:35:36 AM »

Hi Steve,

It's handled as a combat between the capitalized figures ... and uh, I think that is the cooler way to do things.

Best, Ron
Logged
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2006, 12:16:06 PM »

Heh. Sure thing.

The other elements of the combat (engineers trying to build a bridge, Ristken's cavalry conducting a sneak attack), are these treated as:

a) already taken into account under the Capitalised Figures scores (Stamina, Will, Lore), and Past / Covers?
b) momentary bonus dice for a single exchange of the overall combat?
c) permanent bonus dice until the element (a division of archers, say) is described as eliminated from the combat?
d) something else?
e) any of the above, depending on what feels appropriate at the time?

...  Oh.

It's (e), isn't it?
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2006, 02:03:07 PM »

Hiya,

Nope, not (e). Those are either Bangs if delivered by the GM as an NPC's action, or plain old actions as delivered by player-characters' orders. In many cases, such "arm's length away" actions may well have situational or logistic bonus dice, using the combat bonus-dice rules.

Best, Ron
Logged
Frank T
Guest
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2006, 03:14:46 PM »

I think it is very appropriate to the genre to view a mass battle as a contest between the armies' commanders. And don't forget that in a game of Sorcerer, your DEMON is capitalized, too.

You can also think up very interesting ways of carrying successes over. "Beric, fall back on the left flank. If they swallow the bait, I will swing the main body of the army left. Brynden, you need to hold the right flank long enough for us to finish them. Call in the reserve if need be." Can you see how Beric's and Brynden's successes will carry over into my roll?

I can also well imagine the commander taking damage if he loses a roll. "My Lord, you are bleeding!"--"Aye. One of those cursed archers got in a lucky shot. Hand me my javelin."

- Frank
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2006, 07:03:01 PM »

Hiya,

I looked over the post a little more carefully and yeah, it's (e). I mis-read (e) to be an alternative option (just Color) rather than an inclusive one. So Steve, you got it. Frank does too in regard to how flexible (a) can be.

Best, Ron
Logged
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2006, 09:39:59 PM »

I don't think I've got much more to ask, but thanks for all that. Looking at declarations inside a combat as Bangs was pretty eye-opening (and, retroactively, obvious).

I want to see some Sorcerors and their Demons fighting each other in a huge clash of armies now.
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Sydney Freedberg
Member

Posts: 1293


WWW
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2006, 08:53:56 AM »

What about depicting a large mass of minor characters with some collective story-significance (e.g. the engineers trying to build the bridge, or the elite cavalry) as a single NPC? I've had this approach work very well in Capes and The Shadow of Yesterday, but I've never tried it in Sorcerer, and conceivably the disadvantage of diluting focus on the main characters could outweight the advantage of highlighting interesting minor characters.
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2006, 03:48:42 PM »

Hi Sydney,

It's not by-the-rules, but it's OK. Nothing makes it not work for Sorcerer. I tend to prefer the option of the cavalry being a situational/logistic bonus die for Ristken, myself - with the real meat of the roll coming from Ristken's considerable Past score ("cavalry captain"). That way, it's not just any ol' cavalry, it's cavalry led by Ristken, which is a big deal.

Must ... geek ... out!! Ristken - that asshole! He totally got what was coming to him. I think Teres is one of the best overlooked heroines of fantasy fiction.

Geeking out ... more!! And Kara Thrace in the new Battlestar Galactica totally reminds me of her! That is so cool.

If anyone wants to geek out about Bloodstone, or any Kane story, or Tomoe Gozen, please feel free. I don't do this very often ...

Best, Ron
Logged
Frank T
Guest
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2006, 04:49:00 AM »

The German version of the Kane stories used to come in two „special price“ paperback volumes. They were looking cheap and cheesy, and unfortunately, the translation was cheap and cheesy, too. When I was 13 or so, I was reading Dragonlance and everything by Wolfgang Hohlbein, the only significant German Fantasy Author of the time. Our cleaning lady, who was a very nice person, bought me “Kane der Verfluchte” for 10 DM as a birthday present. The first story in that volume was “Cold Light”, and I was reading it and not getting it and thinking of it as just a poorly written fantasy action story. But heck, what can you expect of a cheap and cheesy book. So I put the book aside.

Some time later, out of shear boredom, I read into the second story, which was “Raven’s Eyrie”. It was like being struck by lightning. Now I was getting it. This was different! I read through the rest of the stories in a feverish daze, marvelling at the incredible impact of “Undertown”, “Lynortis Reprise” or “Sing a last song of Valdese”. There was also an afterword with some quotes by Karl Edward Wagner, which led me to buy some of the original Conan and Elric stories, and the King’s Road of course. I also bought GURPS Conan and played a campaign in the setting with a homebrew system, using a Hyperborean sorcerer inspired by Kane as a recurring antagonist. One adventure used the situation and dramatis personae from “Reflections for the winter of my soul”, word for word.

Somehow, I lost touch with the genre in the years after. But when I read Sorcerer & Sword, it all started coming back. It was like mounting heartbeat between the lines. I was reading it and thinking: That guy got struck by lightning, too. Rock on, man!

- Frank
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2006, 08:01:39 AM »

Hi there,

It took me a day or two, but I found a thread I knew was relevant: [& Sword] Armies in conflict.

As for the Kane stories, "Raven's Eyrie" is definitely one of my favorites. It features an interesting writing technique, too. If I'm not mistaken, as many as half of the Kane stories are told fully or partly from the point of view of other characters. Howard did this more rarely with Conan (e.g. Murilo in "Rogues in the House," Valeria in "Red Nails"). Most of "Raven's Eyrie" is told from multiple viewpoints, and Kane's is featured only briefly, during the scene when he faces off with Lord Thro'Ellet.

Best, Ron
Logged
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2006, 05:52:24 AM »

Bloodstone is the only Kane story I've read so far, but I have much respect for an author that can not only make giant frog people scary, but keep making them SCARIER every single time they appear.

I also thought it was impressive how off-screen Kane (and his decisions) were for much of Bloodstone, and how big he thinks.
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2006, 08:22:37 AM »

I've just ordered a bunch of the Kane stories from Rudy's Books based on this thread. 

That third-person narrator trick is pretty well suited to this kind of fiction, since the heroes are often absurdly competent, and that gets old after a while.  It's sort of like how the best Superman stories barely have Superman in them at all--he swoops in, swoops out, and everyone's got to deal with the consequences.  The techique gives a ground-level view of the setting, establishes suspense because the narrators are often far less competent than the hero, and then manages to make the hero look that much more inscrutable and bad-ass for the moments in which he does appear. 

Can I jump in and say, Nifft the Lean without needlessly derailing the thread?  Because that is a great book.  I personally don't see the appeal of most of Howard's writing, I think Leiber is dreadful, and Lovecraft is just a tenth-rate Poe, but Nifft and The Dying Earth are both really well done from a technical point of view. 
Logged

--Stack
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2006, 06:29:06 PM »

Nifft! Fine stuff.

How about a little more content in your comment, James? You say, it's a great book. Why? Saying you happen not to like others doesn't really illuminate that.

You can probably see that Gildmirth was my direct influence for the Shapeshift ability, by the way.

Best, Ron
Logged
James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2006, 11:35:17 AM »

Sure!  Three things to keep in mind: first, I've not read all of Howard's work, nor all of Shea's; second, though I can appreciate a writer's historical importance I'm hardly conscious of it while reading.  Third, and most importantly, thanks, Ron, for listing all of this stuff in Sorcerer & Sword--otherwise I never would have read some great stories.

It's hard for me to pick out Michael Shea's merits in isolation, because I read him shortly after putting down Robert E. Howard's Conan stories. 

Shea's humor is very dry and very black; the irony drips off of every page.  "They don't like thieves in Kine Gather."  I loved Vance's Cugel stories just for this reason, and I think fans of the one would enjoy the other. 

Howard uses better adjectives, but Shea gives you the imagery.  "[T]he spider-haunted towers of Zingara" is poetry, but Shea would give you the crumbling bricks laid by slaves to an undead tribadist.  The closeness of the air.  And in some shady corner of the tower, a hairy spider slowly drains the ichor from a silken cocoon with eight smaller legs, etc. 

Shea strikes me as a better writer because he is a better observer.  He certainly has a more nuanced understanding of human nature than Howard displays.  Consider Defalk's first appearance in Chapter 3 of "Come Then, Mortal"--already, we know how he'll handle the rest of the story's events.  Nifft's reaction at the end of "The Pearls of the Vampire Queen" comes to mind: a mixture of relief, regret, and respect; anger mixed with well-wishing mixed with mockery.  Shea not only has a great palette of colors, he can see which ones to use.

As to the biggest difference: Nifft is human; Conan isn't.  (Howard reminds me a little of Ayn Rand: he has the same desire to make a sociological point, and uses the same technique of pitting demi-gods vs. straw men to make it.)  Nifft is simply a decent swordsman who knows the value of preparation and thinks clearly in a crisis.  He's Batman!  More importantly, Nifft and his companions know what it's like to be weary.  They fail after enormous hard work and sacrifice, know that they've failed, and hate it.  (Conan fails too, but not often, and reacts by "brooding".  Wuss.)  I always get the feeling that Michael Shea knows what hard work means, and admires the people who do it.

And yeah: Gildmirth is totally some sorcerer who's slowly transforming into a Passer demon as his Humanity erodes away. 

P.S.  I read Weird of the White Wolf and the first section of Tomoe Goezen on the train this weekend.  Can someone explain why Moorcock is more popular than Salmonson?  (I guess I'll have to read Stormbringer.)  And whatever happened to Salmonson anyway?  She's terrific!
Logged

--Stack
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!