Thursday, May 10, 2018

Further thoughts on Fodder in DF

One of my players commented on a previous post, and said:

"These guys are struggling with orcs and norkers. Well, not really. It’s really numbers and tactics, though.


Tactics and numbers.

The orcs and norkers? The bulk of them are weaker, in terms of ST, skill, defenses, and DR, than even the weakest PC fighter-type. Every single one of them is significantly weaker than the experienced front-line fighters, such as Mo, Vryce, and Hjalmarr. Yet the orcs and norkers really frustrate the PCs (and the players.) How?

Well, tactics and numbers. I've discussed this before back in February 2014:

Melee Academy: Dealing with Superior Foes


Using Fodder in GURPS DF

What is in those? Tactics, and numbers.

So they have an effect on the PCs. From a GM perspective, what else are fodder good for in DF and the DFRPG?

Deplete resources

Killing foes takes time, takes FP, and somethings costs HP (which costs FP for the cleric.) They may make a few criticals, or come in numbers on a flank that forces you to use up potions, Alchemist's Fire, etc. that come with a dollar cost. Fodder can soak up those resources. They basically need to die to do it.

The can result in victory - albeit often Pyrrhic victory - as the PCs run out of time, run low on resources, or just run low on the enthusiasm for continuing to fight. The PCs pull back out, and the fodder "win." If they can replace losses easily - through recruiting, healing, or Necromancy - it could be a draw or just a cost of keeping their position.

Discourage Lollygagging

PCs tend to waste a lot less time if they have to worry about wandering monsters. Even more so if they have organized fodder in the area. Fights with fodder tend to make noise, and draw in more monsters, and alert everyone and everything to the presence of PCs. Because of this, it discourages taking a long, slow tour of the dungeon, checking on previously explored areas in a megadungeon, or just taking their sweet time about clearing a smaller dungeon. An orc army or a goblin throng or a horde of dinomen means a lot of resources consumed if you don't get a move on.

Test the Tactics of the PCs

Dumb fodder will just die in droves, rushing the same doorway until the PCs choke it with their corpses and then move on. Smarter or well-led fodder will change things up. The PCs have to react to that, which means they need to adjust their own tactics. If they rely on "armored guy takes the damage from ranged weapons" but the fodder switches to poisoned bodkin points, then what? If they rely on defending doorways and waiting for the occupants of rooms to rush them, what happens when the fodder flee out the other door and block that doorway? How will they handle hit-and-run? How about traps? What about fodder who alert other monsters on purpose, or seed areads with dangerous critters as a trap?

The novelty of new tactics means the players need to stay on their toes, and become better players. There is only so far overwhelming ST, skill, defenses, etc. can take you in GURPS. Once you reach "fodder can't block my attacks and I one-shot kill them" then only tactics will help you do better against them. Fodder that adapt force the players to adapt, too.


  1. Swarms are your friends. I was amazed that you didn’t make big centipede swarms for Pyramid.

  2. I haven't really used fodder so far.

    A few groups of "norms" that took play time to be dealt with.

    And Orcs.

    The Wizard has ended up casting Darkness and turtling the party using the -10 to attack to nerf the Orcs

    Something that I (and I suspect the other players) have found a boring and slow tactic.

    But it worked.


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