Where To Whack ‘Em

by mshrm

Ideally, I want the party’s enemies to fight in a manner which is logical for them. When they’re attacked by a mob of fear-deranged goblins, I want the goblins to fight differently than a unit of experienced, battle-hardened knights. The one will favor All-Out Attack and a quick escape, while the other should fight with skill and discipline. Monsters and wild animals might always go for the throat (or, in this case, the torso), but one would expect warriors who are similar to the party in power and skill to choose their targets the same way the party’s warriors do.

I can’t be sure how others do it, but my party is pretty consistent:  they like to choose the high-value targets. Posy, of course, won’t even shoot at anything larger than a human eyeball, considering it beneath her dignity as an archer and a waste of perfectly-good arrows. “One shot, one kill,” as they say. The in-yer-face fighters display more variety. Needles used to like the stab to the vitals from behind, but since he bumped his strength a bit, he’s been favoring a cut to the throat. Gabby seems to favor the vitals or the eye, depending on how spry the thing looks. Alric likes to chop stuff off, so he’s one for necks and limbs.

This past session, the lizard men were intended to be opponents approaching the party’s level of skill. They were picking their targets. Along the way, I discovered that I’ve somewhat lost track of the party members’ armor. I don’t think it made much difference, as it happened, but I thought I might review the character sheets, asking:  If you were going to sucker-punch this character, where would you hit?

Alric Redbeard:  Best just to avoid punching him, really. When he’s kitted out for the dungeon, the only part showing is his eyes. His full suit of scale, plus his own thick hide, gives him DR 5 over everything aside from his head, which is even better defended by his dragon-helm. If the enemy isn’t delivering multiple dice of damage, the best bet looks like going for the vitals, through chinks in the armor. No hope of crippling those beefy limbs, so one’s only hope is to put him down with a mortal wound.

D’arth Loathing:  The party’s sometime anti-paladin is surprisingly lightly armored. His neck, face, and hands (!) are all bare, and he’s only got a pair of leather pants covering his legs and abdomen. Curiously, D’arth hasn’t benefited from the party’s generosity as much as some other, less unholy, characters. At any rate, a skilled combatant has several options. With both of D’arth’s obvious weapons requiring two hands to use, it might be amusing to some combatants to try to take out a hand, then try to capture him.

Gabby the Cabin Girl: Judging from sheer survival-power, you’d think Gabby’s covered head-to-toe in enchanted mithril. Not so! In accordance with Swashbuckler Attire Bylaw #3, she’s got nothing on her face or arms, and is only lightly armored everywhere aside from her torso. The problem for a would-be Gabby-murderer isn’t delivering damage through armor, it’s delivering enough damage to make her lie down and stop kicking.

Needles: The darkness is his armor. Like Gabby, Needles has some strong torso protection, a good helmet, and little else. As one would expect from a thief who may be called upon to pick a lock or feel out a poison needle trap, he doesn’t wear gloves heavy enough to provide any protection. I’m willing to bet, if it’s a blade that puts Needles down, it’ll be with a cut throat… just like the guidance counselor told him, way back in adventurer’s school.

Posy: Looks to me like the only reason Posy wears armor is because the hairless monkeys get all jumpy and start making noises if one goes about in one’s fur. She’s got less DR than Jed did, when he was still adventuring, and he wore a tuxedo with top hat. If I had realized, I likely would have had the lizard men aim for the vitals, and they might have done more to Posy than just knock her down.

Rolf: On the one hand, Rolf’s a great big dog covered in metal. His armored DR ranges from 5 on his feet up to 13. (Skull and groin, and skull includes the natural protection of his, well, skull. Demonstrates his sense of priorities.) On the other hand, that big slobbery snout is hard to get a helmet over, so his bare face is hanging out. One facing Rolf would likely want to just punch him in the nose. For that matter, so do those travelling with him.

Tantric McSwayze: He’s an overweight, magic-using leprechaun. He’s got 4 HP. If he gets hit with anything worse than harsh language, he’s a-gonna die, armor or no armor. Thus, no armor. All he’s got defending him is two demons, a natural -4 to be hit due to size, and enough Luck that you’ve got to hit him three times in a row if you’re going to hit him at all. Attackers are advised to use grenades, where available.

TKotBO: Just the eyes, baby. Everything else is covered in steel. Arms, legs, and feet have DR 4, and those are the most lightly-armored areas. That’s not even the worst problem facing a would-be assassin. The first obstacle in the “Let’s Poke A Spear Into That Knight Over There” project would be his shield. With an effective Block of 14, he’s pretty well-covered. Then the second and third obstacles are the two young squires he usually has by his side, using their own high Blocks to keep him safe. Still, all that just indicates that a backstab is in order…