Monday, June 24, 2013

Pictures, Other Adventuring Parties, and Orcs in Formation

Yesterday's game was a lot of fun.

Here are some reflections on it.

Picture time!

I snapped one picture yesterday. I really should do more during the big brawls.

Assaulting the orc guards

The two counters in front and behind the party are the magically created servants they use as pack mules and trap-triggers and extra light sources. Red Raggi is up front, Galen is backing him up, Dryst is out to the right, and then behind him is Father Hans. We used Inquisitor Marco's former mini because despite carrying two cases of minis to the game I had like one guy who fit the cleric's loadout. Sigh. I'll have another one for next time.

The orcs are mostly Reaper DHL, often accessorized with Mordheim warband bitz, plus one Dwarven Forge orc my players bought me years back for Christmas. I painted all of the others except that guy and the orc with a spear on the hex base. He was a super-cheap eBay pickup, and I can always use another painted orc.


Paraphrasing here: "We can't fight them again. We already used up that monster."

That's when I joked that my Pathfinder gargoyle collection means that level 3 is "the Gargoyle level." Damned if I'm not using all of my minis again and again.

Speaking of which, I used different orcs for all of the fights. One fight didn't get mapped, so I ended up using 22 different orc minis that game. I have at least 50 of them painted, so I can keep that up. I just need more shaman-types.

So by this theory of "keep using my minis over and over", there needs to be a gargoyle level, an orc level, a spider level, an ape level, a pirate level, a horde pygmy level, a zombie level . . .

Somewhere in the session the "Slime Level" was invented. We called the blocked-and-locked door they bypasses the entrance to the Village of Slime - it's level 2.5. I said "They only have liquid treasure - isn't Treasure Type S all potions?" "It's Treasure Type Y - for Yuck!"

Other Adventuring Parties

So I finally remembered to poll my players about allowing other adventurers into the dungeon. After all, it's the dungeon I made but it's equally their campaign. The two guys I had there yesterday were fine with it - as long as the dead remains of the other adventurers stayed in the dungeon so they could be looted. Heh. I still have another 5 guys to ask, though. If they say yes, I may start to run people through Felltower online. That's still a ways out though, and it's not like I have holes in my schedule around anything near a real gaming time.

Orcs in Formation

So yesterday the PCs finally hit the orcs when they had a chance to organize - as in, not on patrol and being ambushed by the PCs or in a chance encounter. The orcs lined up, shields in front, long weapons in back. They used the Teamwork perk to form up. They put their archers on the flanks with a clear line of fire. They put their shaman and leader in the back, and importantly put their ogre in the back to hurl giant spears instead of trying to play skill vs. skill games with armored foes.

In short, cannon fodder up front, assets in back, and organized formations to cover their buddies and ensure mutual support.

They still died horribly.

But some of that was bad die rolls (seriously bad ones on damage, and in one fight five attacks at effective skill 14+ all missed), good luck by the PCs (lots of crits), and being badly overmatched. As in, the strongest orcs aren't one-on-one or even two-on-one as tough as the PCs. Even more so, although they poisoned all of their weaponry (well, except the ogre's spears), the only PCs to get hurt shrugged off the poison with solid HT rolls.

Add in smart PC tactics - such as the scout shooting arrows at shield-armed foes to get them to Block so Raggi could force them to Parry and Dodge if he hit twice, or keeping their own formation tight enough for support - and it wasn't close.

But it was cool, and made for fun encounters. It wasn't boring, and it made the orcs for an interesting fight. I think it'll keep the orcs as potentially dangerous fodder. Although they were able to smear the orcs the players still felt like letting them ambush them or get in behind them was a monumentally bad idea. I think that's a win for me as the GM. Fun + challenge = good result.


  1. Looks really nice! But as for the way you handle the orcs that is totally different than mine. I think I had a problem accepting that humanoids would just be fodder for high level PCs. When I DMed AD&D and the PCs were high level and they saw orcs they just chopped them down with no concern. That used to bother me and when I used GURPS I changed orcs to be like humans in the way they could advance in levels. So in my games an orc leader would go 1 to 1 with a PC knight. The body guards would be be pretty close to as powerful and there would be those of intermediate power mixed with the fodder. So orcs are bad news in my dungeons and ogres are really bad news which could take on 2 or 3 PCs. I always liked orcs, ogres and trolls and I feel that AD&D didn't give them much respect.

    1. I gave the players 250 points so they'd be asskickers. Making orc leaders equal to 250 point characters and scaling down would be the same as just playing another low-point game. We've played those, and orcs were nothing to sneer at - but this game is about already being at the asskicking levels. YMMV, but remember I'm playing DF because we really do want the PCs to be much better than the fodder, and to be hunting for harder challenges from day one.

    2. I understand and your view is fine. I just felt frustrated by orcs always being so weak. It is just my personality quirk I guess.

    3. Yeah, I get you. It's just that the orcs are basically made up on a lot less points than the PCs. Against "normal" folks - say, the bargain henchmen from DF15 - they'd be killers. It's just they are normal level fighters and the PCs are much, much better. It's a question of scaling, not a judgement on the orcs. In a higher-power game, "normal" enemies should be much easier.


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