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Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture
Why is Combat considered a 'bad thing'?
combat

So I've read a lot of posts recently about Action Sequences and people decrying that combat is bad and that players who like combat aren't enjoying the RP aspect of the game, etc. It has me scratching my head. Every single swashbuckling movie, book, or other piece of literature has combat in it. Heroes fight Villains. Heroes fight Henchmen. Heroes fight swarms of Brutes. It isn't the entire movie, but it often is critical to the movie and many times offers cool insights to the character's personality that might not otherwise come out.

Why then is the general feeling that "Combat in my game is a 'bad thing'"? I'll leave it at that because I truly want to understand.

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Heng benjamin
Heng benjamin's picture
Combat is often bad in rpg when it is combat for combat's sakes. Going down a dungeon fighting wave of goblins after waves of orks because a mysterious old man told you to is more tactical wargames than roleplaying game. However, with a good system (Pathfinder, DnD4) it can be truly enjoyable. In 7th sea 2E, the system do not makes fights really fun: brutes in themselves are lame. The maneuver system is light. Non duelist are craps. What makes fights enjoyable is it's decorum: winning an argument during the fight, chasing a messenger, protecting a Mac guffin etc... So, I'd say making action scene a combat scene is often suboptimal GMing in 7th sea 2E. Suboptimal, not bad . Edit: two games ago, we had a really good fight in the game, fight club style. Mechanically I felt it sucked. But we had great character development during it, tables flipped, mugs flight... That was a great combat, because it was not about getting the other hero to 0DW, it was a story about the will to survive, the need to endure...the combat itself was just a mean to tell this story. IMHO, that's​ great in any RPG.
Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

Heng

     Thank you! That makes a lot of sense and I agree with your statement that 'combat for combat's sake' is bad.

     I do want to share an experience from last night's game. It was a 4 hour session that culminated in a fight Action Sequence. After 3 hours of RP, investigation, some character guilding, the 'big bad villain' broke free from his prison, summoned in some bad guys, and combat started.' Now, the combat was in the Reception Hall of Burke University, with visiting scholars from around Theah and filled with artifacts and other works of art. So, in addition to dealing with the combat threats, there were innocents to save, items to rescue, important things to notice, etc.

    Now I happened to make this Villain the Unseelie Prince of Storms (Villain, Power 10) and his Storm Knight champion (Power 6), along with about 16 'storm sprites' that were wrecking havoc in the University (Brute Squads). The Storm Knight was there to personally challenge our Avalon Knight of Ealdread (Surprised to him), and in a surprise turn of events, our Matushka Touched Ussuran confronted the Storm Prince, since she had the power of Storms from Matushka (I had forgotten this but it made for such an epic battle). In the end, the Storm Prince fled (using some Danger Points I had left) but the Matushka Touched Sorcerer really got to shine, both RP and in combat against the Storm Prince. In the end I almost dropped her into unconscious territory but she calmed his storm, generally rattled him (that a mere mortal could contain him!) that she has now earned an enemy from it. So I'd say that combats can offer opportunities to RP just as much as anything, if they are planned out right. That said, I'm still getting a good feel for the proper number and types of Brutes to use, as in a large scale scene I want them to be a decision as to whether to deal with them or not, without them becoming a slog fest. :)

John

Heng benjamin
Heng benjamin's picture
Sounds like fun! An other great example of good combat in rpg is the 16HP dragon story from Sage Latora.
BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Hey Harley,

I hope this isn't somewhat addressed at me and my Action Sequence model.  I certainly don't shy away from combat in my game.  But I have found that your typical "blow by blow" old school D&D-esque combat round is VERY unfulfilling in 7th Sea.  It just lacks any real thrill, especially if you are going Raise by Raise.  I feel for combat to have weight in this system, there almost NEEDS to be something else going on.  Either the combatants are working towards different goals, or something needs to be happening in the scene to provoke addition tension.  Granted, I've only run three sessions and we're all still getting used to the flow of the game, but I was really starting to feel I needed SOMETHING to help raise the stakes in combat.  Especially because, in 7th Sea, the heroes (generally) win and combat isn't about resource management so much as it is about choices.  I needed to take a set back and get outside my well-established GM box and get a better grasp on how to make the game work for me.

 

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

No, not directed towards anyone in particular. You (and Heng) bring up the good example that other things need to be going on to further the story other than 'slash and parry' combat. I've run about 4-5 different big "Action Sequences" that involved combat and all felt a little different (2 were similar) so I'm still getting a feel for what is the proper amount of action. It's really hard, as you mention, with creating the right opportunities/consequences, and alternate goals to keep things interesting.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

I agree that this game really sucks at the "combat for combat's sake" style of gaming.

Harli's example of the Ussuran sorcerer pretty much putting the Unseelie Storm Prince in his place is a great example of how an Action Sequence can be more than just clashing swords.  That such a thing came about without the GM directly planning it makes it that much better.

I wonder if some of the complaints are due to experience with Action Sequences that are really little more than just straight-up slugfests of the sort that you'd tend to find in D&D and it's various clones, with GMs either willingly or unwittingly shoe-horning the Heroes into using 'combat skills' to carry the day rather than letting the player come up with what other systems would see as non-combat approaches.

Interestingly enough, I've seen and heard about similar issues with FFG's Star Wars RPG, with combats (especially those involving lightsabers) being on the unsatisfying end for the players, as they tend to be over very quickly (about 2 to 3 rounds on average) and that PCs who aren't focused on combat either struggling to find things to do that can help the fight, or feeling like they're relegated to simply assising the more combat-capable PCs take down the bad guys.  One big complaint has been that lightsaber duels, which tend to be grand/epic sequences in the films (with the exception of Episode 4) while in the game a one-on-one fight between two lightsaber wielders rarely goes past the 3rd round before one of the opponents is defeated.

My thought is that there's a number of GMs that due to past experiences with other RPGs believe that a combat scene has to just be about combat, and the only end goal is for the PCs to crush their enemies.  With the primary source material of 7th Sea, the protaganists never get into a fight just for the sake of getting into a fight, and as such if the PCs need to employ violence, they're doing so in order to acheive some sort of goal.  In the Disney adaptation of The Three Musketeers (the one with Tim Curry as Cardinal Richelieu), the Heroes were primarily focused on saving the life of the young King and his bride; that they had to rip through the Cardinal's men and his dragon Rochefort was an aspect of the overall scene, though it did permit D'Artanagn to complete his Vendetta story.

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

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

I wonder if some of the complaints are due to experience with Action Sequences that are really little more than just straight-up slugfests of the sort that you'd tend to find in D&D and it's various clones, with GMs either willingly or unwittingly shoe-horning the Heroes into using 'combat skills' to carry the day rather than letting the player come up with what other systems would see as non-combat approaches.

This has been exactly my problem.  And given the short supply of idea generators I've found to help break out of that mold, I can see why its pervasive over multiple game systems.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

I think the Three Musketeers movie is a great example of how 7th Sea should be working. I also always recommend Cutthroat Island (though it's not going to win any awards), I think it handles the Action Sequences that aren't slugfests pretty well.

Beard Homestead
Beard Homestead's picture

Combat is fine, but i seems pointless in this game. Hard to do a good villian fight when 4 people with pistols defeats literally any villian I could make on their first raise.

Heng benjamin
Heng benjamin's picture
Please make armies of vilains with some firepower. If the players wants to break the game, so you can. On the other hand, you can also play a strength 10/influence 10 vilain. He will have muuuch more raises and deals one DW/slash. Seriously, you just have to talk to your players. Is the game even fun for them when played like this?
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