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Doctor
Doctor's picture

“I certainly hope you find a solution that allows you and your players to enjoy the game.”

I guess part of my point is that I shouldn’t have to choose either the fluff or the crunch; the two should work together. In 7th Sea 1ed, there ended up being 61 combat styles: essentially, everyone got their own style. By the end, having a combat style didn’t really mean anything anymore, and neither I nor my players thought that was right.  

I know how to change things, or at least I have several workable models for how to do it, but it is still irksome that I have to.

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

"“If the player's concept is something like "I want to be a deadly knife-thrower" or "I want to be a deadly marksman with a bow" or, "I want to be a deadly bare-knuckle brawler who takes down foes with his fists," then I can see where they might get frustrated, because there aren't a lot of ways outside the Advantages previously discussed to increase damage per Raise spent on missile weapons or Brawling in combat.”

This is part of it. Essentially, unless you want to use a sword (or whip) you cannot be a badass. A pugilist or even a guy with a halberd will just never hold a candle to a Duelist."

A quick note from the history of 7th Sea.  In 1E core rules there were only 6 schools and they were basically sword schools:

  • Donovan - Smallsword & Buckler
  • Aldana - Rapier
  • Eisenfaust - Broadsword & Panzerhand
  • Valroux - Rapier & Main Gauche
  • Leegstra - Broadsword
  • Ambrogia - Rapier & Main Gauche (Droite?)

By the end of the run there were over 50, covering at least 2 versions of unarmed, through hand axes and halberds to muskets.  There is already more choice in the 2E core than 1E core and I would not be surprised if new ones were added quite quickly, expanding the range of weapon options for combat capability.

Wolfflin Huyghen
Wolfflin Huyghen's picture

All my players complained about that... even the duelists. They felt the pressure of be surrounded by "incompetents". The reaction was all with guns in the next combat. Next step, even the duelist with two guns, the ussuran archer, the Innishmore pub fighter, the Eissen monster-hunter, ... 

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

For guns, another formula can be used: When you shoot with a firearm, you inflict wounds equal to your Aim +1(the raise you just spent) + extra raises. Half that damage(rounded up) cannot be prevented (you duck/dodge/look for cover but you cannot dodge a bullet entirely).

This makes guns a lot less powerful when someone is not skilled enough but when you have Aim 5, you will be dealing 6 damage, which is 1 dramatic wound and 1 wound, like the rules, the only difference is that you can prevent half of it. With this, you can shoot 4 or 6 pistols and if the opponent has enough raises, they can still survive. And if the user is unskilled, the cost will be too much to inflict serious damage.

Andrés Stein
Andrés Stein's picture

As I mentioned in the Death Spiral thread I think this falls under the category of GM discretion to give all players a chance to shine in what they do best. Also remember a Villain can have Dueling advantages and training so that levels the field in regards of really strong duelists. No one should be worrying on who shines more unless the GM is solely presenting scenes where the duelists shine, and then the issue is the GM, not the duelist.

Monk R
Monk R's picture

I...don't really agree with this.

This works if you are comparing a Duelist to a Courtesan. But it doesn't work if you compare a Duelist to a Pugilist. The Pugilist is literally worse than a Duelist in the current system. And, one might say, "Yes, that is realistic.", but that isn't the point of this game. At best, being a pugilist, you get a bonus die for boxer. Beyond that, you are just as good as any non duelist at fighting.

As someone that wants to make someone that fights with their bare hands, that requires me to either...

A. Accept that I will be worse than the duelist at fighting.

B. Create a completely homebrew Duelist's school just to punch people

That goes beyond spotlight, as both the Duelist and the Puglist want to be good at fighting. One just isn't as good at maintaining that spotlight as the other.

NeoTanuki
NeoTanuki's picture

If I recall correctly, non-weapon 'Dueling' styles were missing from the 1e core rules as well. I don't think dedicated bare-handed schools appeared until Finnegan was introduced in the "Avalon" sourcebook. Perhaps such schools will be introduced in the later Pirates or Nations of Theah sourcebooks? This might be a good question to pose to the creators at some point.

As I said previously, I'm a bit reluctant to mess with the rules until I've had a chance to GM a non-Duelist character through some action myself and see how it goes. If a change appears needed, I'd prefer an approach that revamps the 'official rules' as little as possible. Something like Harliquinn's "Student of Dueling" houserule advantage above is more in line with my preference when it comes to changes.

Andrés Stein
Andrés Stein's picture

But when you're in a situation where you have nothing else but your fists then your pugilist will kick the duelists backside or you will feel you're more useful than your duelist friend that knows nothing (like Jon Snow) about brawling. That's what I mean about the GMs work.

Monk R
Monk R's picture

Well, that just feels like I've been thrown an arbitrary bone. Basically, in order to give me the spotlight for something I want to be good at, the person that's better than me has been shut down so they can't be better than me. I don't want the GM to have to basically create a contrived situation so I can shine. I want to be able to just be..y'know fee like my character is good at what they are good at, without basically being a lamer version of another character.

It's like if a PC party had a Fast-Talking Charlatan and a Charistmatic Farmer. Both built their characters to feel effective in social situations. However, the Charalatan is flat out better than the Farmer because of some piece of the rules (not saying this is the case, only hypothetical). If I was playing the Farmer, and we got into a scenario where a bunch of people just flat out weren't listening ot the Charalatan all of a sudden, I wouldn't feel like that this was my time to shine. I would feel like the GM felt bad for me and was given me a chance to do something instead of just being a lamer version of another character.

Am I making sense?

Doctor
Doctor's picture

“I don't want the GM to have to basically create a contrived situation so I can shine. I want to be able to just be... y'know feel like my character is good at what they are good at, without basically being a lamer version of another character.”

And that, right there, is the crux of my point. Of course a GM can create situations to make a character good, but that hardly balances out a character that just is better (way better), all other things being equal.  This game puts a lot of strain on the GM already. I can only have my party disarmed so many times before it becomes absurd, so the Pugilist only gets so many sessions to shine in combat. Does that seem right if the player set out to make a combat character?

Monk hits the nail on the head: yes, I as GM can dream up and rig all sorts of things, but my players are more than smart enough to spot it and it’s not going to make them feel like their character is competent. It’s going to do the reverse. 

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

Andrés Stein
Andrés Stein's picture

I like to think that all players and GM sat together prior to the campaign and talked about their concepts, hopes and expectations. And yes, as a GM I feel it is my responsability to craft a campaign where all character can feeluseful without making each situation ffel contrived or dropped to fit a character. Being captured by a bad guy, and escaping without weapons, having to use your fists is pretty standard fare.

Charlatan vs Charismatic farmer boy

I know who the villagers will listen in case sense needs to be made about a situation where obviously the farm boy will know more than the charlatan, for example in convincing them on a certain path regarding the use of their crops or resources for the greater good. Yes mechanicaly the charlatan might have more chances, but I, as GM can't fail to address the fact of who has more of a feeling for the overall situation.

I am a firm believer that a GM has the need to make the game be fun for all. I think systems are not hard rules and more like guidelines.

Monk R
Monk R's picture

Well, here's where I'm at.

I would like a mechanic suggestion for balancing Duelists a bit better. Juggling spotlight will not work for me, so I'm hoping to find a bit of a better patch.

I thought about just giving everyone Strike and Parry (Weaponry would shift to other skills as needed), but I'm wondering if anyone has come up with anything more elegant.

Doctor
Doctor's picture

“I would like a mechanic suggestion for balancing Duelists a bit better.”

Well, there are two basic philosophies on balancing something; you can either raise everyone else up, or bring the Duelist down a little. Both sides come with problems. I am sure there are more, but here are four suggestions.

Up

Duelist Light: One fix would be to provide access to Slash and Parry to everyone, either via a low cost Advantage or as a matter of general mechanic. However, you don’t limit the non-Duelist to one Maneuver per Action Sequence, you make Duelist only marginally better and not worth the additional Advantage cost. This solution will also raise the combat effectiveness of the party by a significant margin and may affect encounter design and Villain construction.

Create New Styles: The fastest way to bring an axe wielder, pugilist, or archer up to speed with a Duelist is to create a weapon specific combat style. This is, I fear, the direction JWP will go in, as there are 61 styles in the previous addition and frankly, something’s got to sell the splatbooks. The downside of this is that Duelist becomes simply a mechanic and loses some of its mystique. This solution also produces more Duelist-Level combatants, which could further marginalize those with limited combat abilities as well as raise the bar on Villains and number of entities per encounter.

Down

Limited Maneuvers: By capping the number of Maneuvers per Action Sequence available to a Duelist, the damage output can be brought back down to more manageable levels. The mechanism used to set the cap will have a profound effect on the outcomes. A cap of greater than 3 will effectively limit the soaring output on the high end of the scale but leave things as they are at moderate level. A cap pegged to another statistic adds an additional cost to improvement, which slows growth to a more moderate rate.

Half Damage: Simply reducing the damage of each maneuver to half the user’s Ranks in Weaponry places each individual attack roughly at the same level of a non-Duelist, yet allows the Duelist to take advantage of additional Maneuvers per Action Sequence. The Duelist’s output remains higher than a non-Duelist by a significant margin but the rate at which the Duelist leaves all others behind is slowed. This solution will likely encourage Duelists to utilize Maneuvers like Feint and Bash more often than they otherwise would. 

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

Lord_Nabu
Lord_Nabu's picture

I was considering a variant of "duelist light" where where the maneuvers are modified so "slash" for non-duellists do [brawn] damage and "parry" prevent [wits] damage. But I haven't done the math. 

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

I don't even think the Advantage needs to be limited to Slash and Parry. Here was my proposed Advantage (Which I believe fixes the problem of duelist/non-duelist balance)

-----

Student of Dueling (2 Point Advantage)

You may choose a single Dueling Maneuver that is not a Style Bonus from a Dueling Academy. When you choose this Dueling Maneuver, pick either Aim, Brawl or Weaponry for the Associated Skill. This choice cannot be changed. You must spend a Raise on your Action to use this Maneuver and may only use this Maneuver once per Round of an Action Sequence. If you purchase this Advantage again, you gain an additional Dueling Maneuver with the same restrictions. 

------

The rationale behind this is:

1) Sorcery costs 2 Points

2) This would require a total of 12 Points to get all the Maneuvers (almost 3x the cost of Dueling Academy)

3) You are limited to once / round for each Maneuver (Not just the Action restriction)

4) You never ever get to learn an Academy's style

5) This allows combat characters who don't want the formality of Dueling Schools to have some good fighting skills. For 4 Points you can get Slash and Parry and many characters will be done with this. If you want to be a good bare fisted fighter or brawler, choose Brawl as your Skill. 

6) I don't think this treads too much on the toes of Duelists as they have the formality and flavor of duels to back up their purchase

NeoTanuki
NeoTanuki's picture
I like this. ☺
Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

I updated it to include "Aim" for those that want a Thrown Weapon or Archery combat boost.

Doctor
Doctor's picture

Of the "Up" options, this is my favorite. I would have to look at how it affected the overall combat landscape before I say I like it, but it seems relatively balanced as against other Advantages. I think at 3 points, it could work too, but I'd have to do a really in depth analysis to see which pricing is correct. Part of my issue with Duelist is how badly it leaves other 5 point Advantages in the dust: it's the only one that does not include the phrase "spend a Hero Point."

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

zcthu3
zcthu3's picture

Personally, I think making the combined cost of picking up maneuvers greater than that of the Duelist Academy advantage (and potentially further restricing their use) penalises players who want their story to be developing into being a duelists rather than starting that way, especially as they also need to use stories increasing their Weaponry. It also doesn't recognise that while one character might be developing their dueling abilities, a duelist character is using their stories to develop in other ways (and may be treading into the non-duelist space).

Having read through the thread, I think looking at Sorcery isn't a bad idea. Sorcery costs you two points per level and gives several related powers. Each level of Mothers Touch for example, grants two gifts (and one restriction which is largely a roleplaying thing, not a mechanical restriction). Each level of Glamour gives you one rank in a Major Glamour and two (ranks in) Minor Glamours etc. On that basis, two points should probably give multiple maneuvers.

Less expensive maneuvers is also supported if you break down the cost of Duelist Academy. For 5-points you get 7 maneuvers, including the style bonus, and membership in the Swordsman's Guild. Simply dividing up the maneuvers by cost, I would suggest the following is logical:

2 points: Slash, Parry + 1 of Bash or Feint
+2 points: Lunge, Riposte, + whichever of Bash or Feint you didn't get previously.
  +1 point: Membership in the Swordsmans Guild and the duelist style bonus. 

Pricing it that way supports a couple of concepts:

1. The "duelist in training"  - a Hero can gradually build up to be a full duelist over a number of stories; they gradually improve on their abilities until they have "paid off" the Duelist Academy advantage (remembering that they could also do a single 5-point story but would then pick up everything all at once once it is complete, but which doesn't show gradual improvement over time (i.e. they go from having no skills to being complete duelists once that story is complete). 

2. The "street trained fighter" who is almost as good as an Academy trained duelist - you take the first two levels giving you the 6 basic maneuvers, but don't get the style bonus maneuver or membership in the Guild.

The downside, is that if you can get Slash and Parry for two points it potentially reduces (but does not eliminate) the value of Reckless Takedown and Riot Breaker, as you can take out a whole bunch on brutes and/or largely ignore damage from Brutes.

If you do want to make it more difficult to pick up being a duelist after character creation (so as not to step on a starting duelists toes), I would suggest simply increasing the point cost at each level by 1, so the overall cost would be 8 (3+3+2), but in that case you should increase the cost for duelists picking up other advantages so they don't step on other characters toes. 

(As an aside, I also don't think it is good to use dueling maneuvers with Aim. Firearms already do an automatic Dramatic Wound, adding the equivalent of Slash or Lunge on top of that makes guns massively over-powered - an automatic Dramatic Wound and a whole bunch of other damage).

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

I found a very good thread on reddit that changed up the dueling mechanic. https://www.reddit.com/r/7thSea/comments/4n2heu/second_edition_modified_dueling_house_rules/

General differences are that they added and modified few of the regular manuevers. And created three versions of the "Dueling" advantage.

2 points is Rogue Duelist, which gives you Attack, Parry and three other basic manuevers with the minor caveat that you are not a sanctioned duelist. Thus it's more suited for rough self-taught warriors.

3 points is Dueling Student, which gives you Attack, Parry and four other basic manuevers (two of which are determined by which school you choose. For example: Aldana favors feint and flourish while Ambrogia favors Bash and Riposte) You also gain the special manuever specific for their school. (Many of which are modified.) Dueling students can also do a two step story to become fully fledged masters.

and Finally 5 points is Dueling Academy to represent a fully fledged master at the style. It gives you access to all the regular manuevers, plus the special manuever of their school, plus an additional "Botte Secreta" which acts as a special hero point costing technique also specific to the school.

 

I've been playing with these rules so far and they've been working quite well. I usually confide with the players that the system does tend to disadvantage non-duelists, but this allows them to make characters that can dabble in the styles and be competent in a fight, while still allowing full fledged masters to feel awesome.

Doctor
Doctor's picture

I'm glad this works for you. I am more than a little hesitant to add more maneuvers to the Duelist or dramatically alter the existing ones.  While 7th Sea may not have this problem as much as, say, Shadowrun, the more you mess with part of a system, the more unintended consequences ripple through the whole thing. Generally, I favor the solution which requires the fewest changes.

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Oh, I don't know. I really like the idea of adding a "mastery" level ability. Something to really distinguish the guy who knows the style. I'm not running a game any time soon, but if I were I'd be very tempted to use these additions. I really want to wait and see what sort of stuff Pirate Nations adds to the game first.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

Overall, I like this approach as well. However, I think the costs are a bit low. I will be using my own modification for my game, but if the one above is suitable for anothers' game, that's great. I would consider reducing the maneuvers given to something like:

3 Points - Attack, Parry, and 1 other general Maneuver

4 Points - Attack, Parry, and 3 other general Maneuvers 

5 Points - Full Dueling Academy

3-5 Points - The "Mastery" Level Technique (only if Full Dueling is taken) depending upon how powerful you want those to be.

Andrés Stein
Andrés Stein's picture

I remain unconvinced that the game needs tweaking. Not all types and characters are equal and try to make them so stems from thinking that fun comes solely from being able to carve a path through brutes/villains.

The system as it is and as I read it has a ton of backgrounds, of schools, classes, whatever you want to call them. There are more tools to solve a problem than just the dueling hammer and not all problems are nails. Tailoring dueling or fighting to fit the dueling archetipe of fighting does the game a disservice. Fate Sorcery is amazing and does a lot of great things, yet I don't see people trying to make Porté more useful like Sorte is or Pact Making less prone to take you to the bad side or downplay the Hexenwerk's capacity to control monster brutes and take them to your side.

I don't think dueling is overpowering or more so than other options that aren't being discussed as "needing to be balanced".

Doctor
Doctor's picture

“I remain unconvinced that the game needs tweaking.”

You are certainly entitled to this opinion, though I am curious if you have run or played in a game involving both Duelists and non-Duelists yet. You may yet change your mind.

“Not all types and characters are equal and try to make them so stems from thinking that fun comes solely from being able to carve a path through brutes/villains.”

No. No it does not. I think if you’ll read carefully, you’ll find that the argument is not that all character types must be equal. Rather, the issue is that the Duelist is vastly superior from any other character type in combat. Thus, if a player wants to be a combat character and be effective, she must be a duelist, otherwise she will not be good at the thing she wishes to be good at.

I do not at all believe that fun comes solely from being able to care a path through brutes/villains; what I do believe, however, is that fun certainly doesn’t come from being so ineffective that my presence doesn’t matter. Fun comes from feeling involved and invested.

“No one should be worrying on who shines more unless the GM is solely presenting scenes where the duelists shine, and then the issue is the GM, not the duelist.”

Right, except a “scene where the duelist shines” is simply “any combat that does not require him to be unarmed.” I don’t have to contrive scenes where the duelist shines, he just does; in fact I have to contrive scenes for anyone else to shine, and the players see through that.

“Fate Sorcery is amazing and does a lot of great things, yet I don't see people trying to make Porté more useful like Sorte is.”

Here is why that is a bad comparison: both Porte and Sorte are, by their very nature, highly contextual and creative use of either can have dramatic effects on the scene. In short, if I am a clever Porte user, I can easily have as much impact on a scene, if not more, than an uncreative Sorte user. However, if I am a non-Duelist, there is absolutely, positively, no way to pull 10 Wounds out of 4 Raises. It simply can’t be done.

In the end, I will not be able to change your mind; if you simply don’t see a purpose in game balance, nothing I say is going to affect that. I am hopeful your players feel the same way.

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

Doctor
Doctor's picture
Duplicate content

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”
- H.L. Mencken

Evan Sageser
Evan Sageser's picture

One thing that I actually considered as a sort of "Mastery" ability would be the ability to use multiple dueling styles in the same round. (with the obvious caveat that one would still have to use largely the same weaponry. So you could use Leegstra and Mireli together, or Aldana and Torres, but not something like Mantovani and Valroux)

Joachim Deneuve...
Joachim Deneuve du Surlign's picture

Basically like the Grandmastering rules from the Swordsman's Guild book?  Again, it's something that I think might well be added later, although it's probably only suitable for high-end campaigns.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

1) Bear in mind that all we have currently is the core rulebook.  As Joachim noted, as later splats go released in 1e, new "schools" were added that provided additional combat options for other weapon types.  I'm sure that as more sourcebooks get released, we'll get more options for combat badassery that don't involve picking up a sword.  Maybe not a full "Duelist style" in the cases of pugilism or wrestling, but probably some Advantage that gives you a boost (apart from the existing Brawler Advantage).

2) The idea that you have to have the Duelist Academy Advantage in order to be "combat effective" is a load of bunk.  Yes, the Duelist is going to pretty awesome in a fight (they paid at 1/3rd of their starting Advantage points for the privilege), but that doesn't mean you can't be pretty effective in a fight if you don't have that specific Advantage.  I ran a one-shot where the most devastating PC in the party was the Ussuran bare-knuckle brawler that notably dispatched a Strength 10 Brute Squad without spending a single Raise due to Reckless Takedown (a 2pt Advantage).

The only time where not having the Duelist Advantage in a fight truly becomes an issue is when the GM is throwing a high Strength Villain against the party.  And if most of your party aren't Duelists, then the GM really shouldn't be throwing Strength 10+ Villains at the group; if anything, the Villain's Strength probably shouldn't go above a 5 in those instances, if only to avoid combat turning into a mind-numbing grind.  Heck, just having a PC with a firearm (or three) can be effective, since that's an automatic Dramatic Wound, and unless the Villain is an utter loon, getting shot encourages most people to go elsewhere and scheme again another day.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Rossbert
Rossbert's picture

I go back and forth on this issue. 

On the one hand, taking Duelist is saying "My character is a master of sword/mace/whip/etc.play.  They should be basically unmatched by more conventional fighters, these are your trained killers and the counters to trained killers at the highest levels (remember, Duelist now is the narrative equal of School 5 in 1st ed).  By basic logic if you know your opponent is a master in a thing, you should strive not to compete with them in that thing without cheating.  As to the question of brawling, it is absolutely be in the spirit for it to be notably weaker than a duelist.  A blade is almost always better than a fist in a fight, though there are often social repercussions to resorting to a sword too quickly, and that is not something that should be quickly dismissed in a setting like this.  By that same logic a gun should beat a sword, and that seems to be more or less intact, especially against higher power villains.

My current answer to a duelist if combat against one NEEDS to happen and I am not one myself is a lot of Pressure (especially with cover, spacing and disarms) and working to change the situation to my terms with Opportunities.

If I am working with one much of the same applies with more focus to Opportunities than Pressure.  Often in the long run this leads to the non-duelist getting a better story.  Fighting well with a sword is all fine and good, but many other things are far more interesting, amusing and better at the retelling later on.  

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Reading through Doctor's various complaints, I can't help but wonder if he's actually run the game, or has just been looking at the written rules and allow preconceived notions of other "balanced" systems to color his thoughts on how Duelists operate in 7th Sea.  WotC tried to make every PC perfectly balanced with each other with the early version 4th edition of D&D, and that's turned out to be one of the more widely panned iterations of D&D thus far, with the Essentials line being something of a back-pedal in terms of class design so that the non-caster classes didn't fell like redressed casters in how they operated.

As for Mark's earlier post in this thread about the issues of crowdsourcing and Kickstarter, he's got a valid point.  While there are Kickstarters where most of the grunt work has been done ahead of time (Christopher West's Maps of Mastery and pretty much anything Fred Hicks/Evil Hat does), it does seem the usual case is that the person doing the Kickstarter sets an expecation (generally low) of how much they'll need to produce, and then find themselves scrambling once their "small project" starts seriously overfunding.  Fred Hicks found himself in this sort of position during the Kickstarter for FATE Core, and I suspect the final stretch goal for that Kickstarter (a FAE version of Dresden Files) was more of a desperate scramble for a goal than something that had really had any serious thought put into it beforehand.

With the 7th Sea Kickstarter being as successful as it was, that probably did take John Wick by surprise.  Maybe he did rush out the game before he should have in order to make a GenCon release.  And while I very much enjoy the game as it currently is, there are a few points where a tad more polish could have been applied via playtesting; "what happens if you Pressure a Brute Squad?" is one such instance.  But I do think it's very much intentional that Duelists are able to "rule the roost" when it comes to combat, because that is their thing, much as a Hero that devoted character resources to be a social-based character (high Ranks in Convince and Tempt, Advantages like Connection, Fascinate, and Friend at Court to name a few) should be able to totally dominate a social-based scene while the PC that focused entirely on combat is left playing a support role.

If the GM intends to put their group through a combat-heavy campaign, where things like social encounters and investigations take a back seat to plowing your way through bad guys like the male lead in a Hong Kong martial arts flick, that's something he should inform the players of up-front so that they can build their characters accordingly and avoid anyone showing up witih a Hero that has no ranks in combat skills and only bought social-based Advantages.  Same with the GM intends a campaign that's heavy on political intrigue, verbal sparring, and duels of wits with very little actual combat, he should let the players know so that that nobody shows up with a Vesten murder-machine that's going to sit around doing nothing for 95% of the campaign.

As for it being a "cheat" to have the GM tailor the encounters and adventures to the types of characters the players bring to the table... to be honest, I've played in a lot of modules that were designed to accomodate as generic a party set-up as possible, and I only remember a handful becuase the rest of them were so generic as to be completely forgetable; I might recognize the name, but for most of them I'd be hard pressed to tell you what the module was about.  The few modules I do remember where the ones that the GM tweaked to accentuate the party's strengths, tailoring it to the group so that everyone got their chance to shine.  Heck, I've seen in mentioned repeatedly as a sign of a good GM that she takes the time when devising his adventures to ensure that every party member gets a chance to shine in the thing their good at, and that it's a sign of a very sloppy GM that he doesn't tailor aspects of the adventure to account for the party's strengths and weaknesses.

So if you've got a Puglist in the party, it's not "cheating" to devise a scene in the adventure where being a bare-knuckle brawler is a distinct advantage over being a Duelist, same with it not being "cheating" to devise scenes in your adventure to allow the Courtier, the Scholar, or the Monster Hunter to shine at doing their thing.

As others have noted, it should be a very rare instance when a Villain appears without the support of Brute Squads (heck, one of the things they can spend Influence on are Brute Squads).  Thus, the Duelist can focus on handling the Villain, with the rest of the party keeping the pressure off their ally by dispensing with the Brutes and assisting their buddy.  Unless you've got a group of players that are all self-absorbed prima donnas that have zero sense of cooperation, most RPG groups count an encounter as successful if the party as a whole accomplishes their goals, even if their own PC wasn't the one to seal the deal and make the contribution that secured the group's overall victory.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Iver
Iver's picture

Hello, i have made a character that uses the Torres style. Is the style bonus really just another parry maneuver that uses athletics rather than weaponry? Seems strangely lackluster compared to other style bonuses. 

I guess It allows me to do a Parry-Riposte-Parry-Flourish-Parry, perhaps with a Bash in there for flair in case they parry my riposte, but a savvy opponent just start lunging when i get low or adding more than 3-4 damage a turn making the style less than effective at blocking the damage. 

I'd rather that it added my Athletics to a parry every round so that it could block even high-damage attacks other than a lunge as that cannot be prevented. Would help a Torres fighter to better fight actual bulls.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Yeah, per clarification by Mike Curry, main editor for the line, the Torres bonus is pretty "meh" in terms of what it does, simply being a Parry that uses Athletics instead of Weaponry.

My house rule that NeoTanuki mentioned to make it worthwhile is to let be used to negate damage that otherwise can't be prevented, such as that from the Lunge Maneuverr.  Thus far, it's worked out pretty well in the playtesting I've done of the various conversions of 1e Swordsman schools that I've done, raising from a mediocre defensive school to a pretty solid one.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

NeoTanuki
NeoTanuki's picture

Hi Iver! There have been a few house rules suggested by fans to boost the Torres special maneuver:

-One idea was increasing the benefit of the maneuver to Weaponry+Athletics

-Another (I think Donovan Morningfire came up with this one) was to have the maneuver still prevent Athletics in number of wounds, but allow it to also prevent damage that normally can't be blocked (like damage from a Lunge).

 

Last Frontiersman
Last Frontiersman's picture

As suggested in the message:

What if a player is required to spend 1 hero point per round of dueling?  After spending all of their hero points (or conserving them), the Deulist is too tired to put the energy & focus required to pull special maneuvers.  Their damage and actions continue under the rules other players follow.

Given the well explained awesomeness & imbalance I assume that it is on par with the advantage of sorcery.  As an added bonus this makes the concession of the other players to the time spent focused solely on the Duelists actions less begrudged, as that player is doing "their thing" and has accordingly paid an equal or higher price for it.  

Not to mention incentivizing Duelists to be more forward thinking in the engagement of conflict/violent action.  

This should apply to NPC Duelists as well if you use it.  Otherwise the imbalance will always be in favor of the NPC Duelist, death, death & dismay.

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