The Review of the Blood Oath

by mshrm

I think I’ve picked on everybody else, at one point or another, so I might as well take a swipe at The Knight of the Blood Oath, usually known as “TKotBO” because there’s virtue in brevity.

TKotBO is a Holy Warrior/Knight. The original concept was the heaviest of heavy fighters, wearing every piece of defensive armor that could be welded on and carrying the largest available shield, sacrificing all else in the pursuit of being able to Take A Punch. He was meant to be a tank, in the World of Warcraft sense. He likely would have been a Knight from the beginning, but the player was talked into the idea that the party needed more healing on hand, as a backup to the cleric. Of course, Rho, that cleric, almost immediately fell down a deep, dark hole onto some rusty spikes, ending his promising career as a rabble-rousing peasant priest — much to the relief of the church authorities who had originally sent him to the New World — and leaving TKotBO as the party’s main healer.

It’s questionable how well TKotBO has filled the “tank” role. When he’s had the opportunity, like when he stood toe-to-toe with Mongo long enough for the rest of the party to regroup, he’s managed it quite well. The problem is, he so rarely gets an opportunity…

The problem is, he’s at Medium encumbrance, which drops him to moving only 3 yards per second. No other member of the party is at so much as Light encumbrance, and even the slowest moves at 5. (Among the hirelings, Dean and Roman are at Light and Medium, respectively, but in the end, they’re both still moving at 4.) What seems to happen is, the party will encounter some opposing force at a bit of a distance, and everybody moves: Needles vanishes in a cloud of sheer greed and will to cause harm, Gabby takes off at a sprint with Alric hot on her heels, and Jed falls back for the long bomb. This leaves TKotBO struggling to catch up with the front line, where a working tank belongs. It’s noteworthy, I think, that on the occasion of TKotBO’s greatest triumph, everybody else was unconscious or had fled. They finally weren’t standing between him and the monsters.

There are ways to remedy this situation, and he’s already working on a couple of angles. As I recall, his very first experience point expenditure was for Lifting ST. We’ve talked about following the lead of WoW and having the tank taunt enemies to enrage them into attacking, and I finally (finally!) went and looked up the details.  TKotBO would have the best luck with taunting demons (with Religious Ritual) or Elder Things (with Psychology).

At this point, I notice two things.  First, if we’re talking about making monsters angry, the party’s best bet is Jed, who could use Singing to perform embarrassing satires and rile ’em up.  This isn’t really surprising, but it is something they haven’t tried yet that could turn out mightily amusing. Second, TKotBO could lecture on the physiology and psychology of Elder Things. He knows more about either than he does about the rituals of his own church. It’s clear that TKotBO is a working holy warrior, not one of those desk-bound holy warriors you see hanging around in the Old World. It’s also clear that he should be bat-**** crazy.

Ah, well. “Crazy” seems to be the next best thing to a job requirement, in the dungeon.

Folks in town tend to assume that TKotBO is the leader of the Delving Band With No Name. He’s the one with the nice, clean clothes, since he put a point into the Sartorial Integrity perk, and he’s wearing shiny armor and has a pretty picture on his shield. (That’s the famous Shield Of Rol-X, with the magical power to tell the time of day and report the weather.  As the player would put it, I’m sure:  “He’s wearing a Rol-X! He must be rich!”)  Having put points into Leadership and Born War-Leader, he’s got the attitude. What he doesn’t have is a party that’ll listen to him, what with them all being Impulsive and rugged individualists, besides. Due to that, I rarely give them the advantage of his Tactics skill in encounters. Next time, though, I think I’ll be using the extended rules for Tactics from GURPS Martial Arts — always should have been using them, really — and I think that might shake things up. I find that people generally don’t appreciate the usefulness of effective leadership until they’re trounced by it once or twice.

TKotBO is missing an eye. This isn’t readily apparent, though, since he rarely takes off his helmet. Between the two, he often seems a little slow on the uptake. One of my running jokes is to point out the difference between what the rest of the party is seeing, and what TKotBO is seeing. He’s got the same point of view as someone hiding in a closet and peeking through a crack. At one point, he was attacked from stealth by a bit of dungeon vermin (a wimpy knock-off of the classic carrion crawler) while everyone else was distracted, and dispatched the creature before he even really knew what it was. It made a noise, he turned and raised his shield, something hit the shield from the darkness, and he whacked it until it stopped making noises. Between his built-in vision penalties and the darkness, he never saw the thing.

TKotBO uses a morningstar in combat, and has picked up the Slayer Training power-up to target the skull of his enemy. His standard approach is to sidle up slowly, keeping his shield between him and his target, and then whack ’em in the head until they lie down, or it becomes apparent that they aren’t impressed by head shots. It is his habit to shout out his battle-cry (“Thwappity!”) when making a strike to the skull.

Yeah, he’s pretty much the very opposite of “stealth”.