So Why Ain’t They Dead?

by mshrm

I would have figured on the big fight last session against the orcs to be more difficult than it was.  I think a little damage was taken, but nobody had to make any death checks or anything. During my copious spare time I’ve been thinking about how they managed it, as part of my ongoing quest to provide more of a challenge to these guys.

One mistake I made was not being vigilant enough about tracking time and enforcing Fatigue costs. I don’t think anybody got away with anything. Everybody left the dungeon tired but not exhausted, as far as I can tell.  Still, I think it might have influence some decision-making if I had stomped on it a little harder. Watching the number dwindle might have affected morale.

It’s funny:  I used to think of Fatigue as a way to keep a cap on the wizards, but it ain’t necessarily so. My players are starting to seriously explore the benefits of extra effort, so the fighter-types are spending more Fatigue in combat. This means they’re running out of it quicker, just as they’re starting to value each point more.

Another point that intersects with Fatigue management is the appearance of wandering monsters. If you can pick and choose which fights you’re going to get in, why not leave it all on the field, as they say? The answer is, because you might run into something evil, mean, and nasty on the way out. Exhausted people are easy prey. Towards the end, there, I let the party off easy. When they left the dungeon, they hustled back to Dobby and the mounts. That should have increased the chances of a random encounter substantially, but as I recall, I just used the base chance.

On the one hand, the party can go slow and sure, checking for traps, probing the ground in front of them, trying to keep the noise down, and practicing light discipline as best they can. This keeps the chance of encounters low, but it’s slow in the extreme. On the other hand, they can move fast, but then they’re rattling and clanking, holding torches high, maybe even calling directions to each other. A shorter period of time means fewer rolls, but those rolls should come up more often.

That said, we are talking about passing through a well-mapped path on what would be considered “Level One”. Even when they have run into wandering monsters, those monsters haven’t been all that much of a challenge. (I’d like to note, though, that this makes the 4th week in a row that they’ve gone straight from the main entrance to the second stone head, the 3rd week in a row that they’ve gone from the stone head past the goblin kitchen, and the 2nd week in a row that they’ve gone from there to the bridge. One might think they’re starting to get a trifle predictable…)

I just completely forgot about the wolves. :/

Of course, they made a lot of their own luck, too. They took out the leadership and the biggest, baddest fighter before most of the orcs even knew a fight had started. Their lack of planning actually helped them. Since nobody knew beforehand that they were going to pick a fight, nobody had to make any Acting rolls to conceal their motives…