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Author Topic: [Sorcerer] Player Tactics That Affect Multiple Targets  (Read 4605 times)
jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« on: April 05, 2005, 02:33:29 PM »

Hello,

I've been reviewing older rules question threads, sorting some things out and I'm trying to work out situations where a single player wants to prevent or hinder the actions of multiple opponents with a single action.

For example, consider characters A, B and C that are all trying to get a gem that lies on an altar.  Lone Player X wants to stop anyone from touching the gem (maybe because there's some trap or curse that will get triggered if the gem is taken from the altar).

We're at the announcement phase A, B and C all declare the same action, "I go for the gem!"

Now, I fully understand that the following are illegal for X to declare:

"I attack anyone who approaches the gem."
or even the much simpler, "I attack the FIRST person to approach the gem."

However, is it possible for the player to declare, "I defend the gem" as an action?

Here's how I would handle it.  Everyone rolls stamina and to keep things simple X goes first.   The target of X's action is the gem which is an inanimate object and so rolls 1 die.  This roll yeilds N victories.

Okay, now let's say that A, B an C all go in that order.  Again, the gem is inanimate so would roll 1 die.  BUT since X is defending it, instead, it rolls 1 + N for defence against A.  If that succeeds, it yeilds M victories.  So the gem rolls 1 + M for defense against B which , if successful, yeilds W victories.  Finally the gem rolls 1 + W for defense against C.

All this could be narrated as X holding everyone at bay at sword point or leaping around and shoving them back or something.

Is what I've described legal?

Even if it is, is there no way for X to fight A, B and C (to the point of death or unconciousness) and prevent them from ever touching the gem at the same time?  As soon as X declares a damaging attack against one of them, that prevents X from defending the gem that round from the other two.

Jesse
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Alan
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2005, 05:57:53 PM »

Why not have them all make stamina rolls and the one that beats the other three gets what they want?
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2005, 06:10:34 PM »

Easy as pie.

Declare the full defense action applied to any attempts to get or harm the gem. It will not, of course, defend the person, and it will not permit doing anything with the gem (i.e. moving it somewhere else). Please especially note that successfully defending does not mean the character "has" the gem, regardless of how the narration might be colored ("holds it up," etc).

Like all uses of full defense, you better hope you roll highest.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2005, 01:13:51 PM »

Hmmm....   So what dice actually get compared?

Do I compare A, B an C's rolls to the initial defense roll.  OR do I roll a single die against the full defense roll and those victories get applied to fresh defense rolls made by X against A, B and C individually?

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2005, 07:13:25 PM »

Hi Jesse,

I think this is a Full Defense issue ...

Full Defense is rolled as an action and is treated like any other action. For instance, let's say ...

Bill, Jack, and Larry all try to seize the gem. Sue says, "Keep gem from being seized by any of them."

They all roll. Sue adds two dice to her roll.

If Sue has the highest value, then she effectively has prevented any of them from getting it. Their rolls do not have to be further checked vs. any defenses or anything. Time to narrate how they all fall over one another or whatever.

And no, they can't "abort to prevent her prevention of their getting the gem" or some shit like that. I can hear your group now, Jesse. She beat the others fair and square.

If Sue has the second-highest value, say, then she can abort her Full Defense in order to roll defense (normal dice) against the first attack, and again against the second, and again against the third (one by one). Technically, by calling the action she did, she is now "the gem's dice-agent," if you will.

If say, Larry rolled highest, Sue aborts, and then fails to defend against Larry (again), then Larry is now considered to be holding the gem. However, note that the others' grabs are still coming in.

Now things get fascinating, because Larry has used his dice, and can now defend against the others grabs. And Sue has her defenses against their grabs too. She can't get it from Larry, but she can keep any of them from getting it.

What if one of them gets past the defenses? Realize that their original stated action was "get the gem," not "get the gem away from Larry." So now they both have the gem. And so on.

I hope you can see that fun little subroutine rolls as I described to sirogit a bit ago might get going. But eventually, the round is over, and someone or no one will have the gem.

Best,
Ron
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Old_Scratch
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Posts: 128


« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2005, 07:23:10 PM »

That's an elegant use of the mechanic, but I'm glad you clarified it further. For some reason, my thinking was along an entirely different line, and I was thinking of it more as a combat, probably because it was initially coached in those terms.

I hope that this one ends up in the RandomWiki-Sorcerer. I can see all sorts of implications from this...

--Garett
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2005, 07:30:46 PM »

??

It is a combat. How is it not a combat? The business about how they can't abort to prevent her defense? That's only not permitted because it makes no sense, as if you could abort your attack to overcome someone's defense.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2005, 08:34:34 AM »

Thanks Ron.  You don't need to worry about the objections of my group.  I don't have a Sorcerer game going on at the moment but I am trying to throw more time into writing Sorcerer Unbound.  This is purely to help sort things out.

So let me ask you this.  Assume it's the same setup with A B and C all going for the gem.  But X delcares that he's attacking A.  Assuming he goes first A either aborts or defends with one die, got that mechanic down pat.  Can X then still throw his defensive dice against anyone still going for the gem?

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2005, 08:38:27 AM »

Hiya,

Um, that isn't making sense to me.

Quote
Assume it's the same setup with A B and C all going for the gem. But X delcares that he's attacking A. Assuming he goes first A either aborts or defends with one die, got that mechanic down pat. Can X then still throw his defensive dice against anyone still going for the gem?


X's action was to attack A. Doesn't have a damn thing to do with the gem. After his action is completed, then X has his full defensive dice to use regarding any attack upon him (X). Still doesn't have a damn thing to do with the gem.

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
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Posts: 1351


« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2005, 09:31:16 AM »

Okay.   I'm clear.  So basically there's no way for a single character to leap around like some crazy ninja protecting the gem from being touched AND kicking these guys asses at the same time.

Jesse
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Old_Scratch
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Posts: 128


« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2005, 07:51:34 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
??

It is a combat. How is it not a combat? The business about how they can't abort to prevent her defense? That's only not permitted because it makes no sense, as if you could abort your attack to overcome someone's defense.


I see, I wasn't clear. Your description of it falls more into my own mental schema as an opposed skill check or a contest of sorts: one character's attempt to defend the gem against a group of other people's efforts to acquire the gem. Viewing it that way, rather than my own mental image of a "combat" (roll, resolve actions, do damage), seems to clarify a lot of things.

I started reading the posts from Jesse's perspective: One character was holding a sword aloft or waving a gun about and was going to whack the first person who grabbed the gem.

You described it a bit different: what's the goal here? To hit the first person touching the object or to keep the object away from others? So it takes place during a combat round: the roll to determine Initiative and success and allow for modifiers to the roll (I stare at them with my cold, flinty eyes, daring them to touch the gem as I hold aloft my bloody sword which is dripping crimson onto the gem below...") but as Jess pointed out, the character can't "leap around like some crazy ninja protecting the gem from being touched AND kicking these guys asses at the same time".

EDIT:

Although we've discussed the gem, I'm not entirely clear yet on what to do with attacks that affect multiple targets:

Examples:

1) "I lift the heavy machine gun, point it down the hallway, and pull the trigger, mowing down anyone that tries to make it up the hallway"

2) "I drop the molotov cocktail inside the back of the truck full of gangsters"

3) "I crawl up to the Japanese bunker, using the foliage, and then I fire my flamethrower into the soldiers manning the machine gun".

4) "The Grave Drake, the harbinger of death rises above your brave little band, opening its mouth and sucking out your lifeforce (ranged special damage, swallow souls)

5) "You hear the eerie piping of the idiot blind god" etc... etc...

So what happens when one declared attack affects a group of people (an area effect) or is sustained ("I keep my finger pressed on the trigger", "I keep spurting flame into the bunker until there's no more movement!")?

And if you designed a demon with an area attack, could this possibly be another demon ability or is it implicit in ranged attacks?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2005, 09:49:00 AM »

Hi there,

Fortunately, I can answer all these very clearly! I have to break them into two concepts, though, and with any luck you'll see why. I also had to change the order of text a bit, because without knowing it, you switched the second concept into a special case toward the end.

Quote
1) "I lift the heavy machine gun, point it down the hallway, and pull the trigger, mowing down anyone that tries to make it up the hallway"


First concept. This is the kind of sentence that shows up in the middle of the free-and-clear phase, before any dice are rolled. By definition, everyone has to declare before the dice get rolled, so the next thing we'd learn is who is trying to make it up the hallway. So the "whoever" part, which is a key point of IIEE-screwing in traditional play (the "saved action" of Champions) is never an issue in Sorcerer.

If that is clear, and it's a very important point, we can move on to the next question, which is "what if more than one guy" is doing that?

The answer is, it depends on the weapon. It's a heavy machine gun. Of course it can blanket the hallway. Everyone running up the hallway is going to have to deal with the attack. The attack will be a single roll.

Quote
2) "I drop the molotov cocktail inside the back of the truck full of gangsters"

3) "I crawl up to the Japanese bunker, using the foliage, and then I fire my flamethrower into the soldiers manning the machine gun".


Same thing, but even easier. Everyone is being attacked because the weapon can hit everyone. The attacker is rolling once, just like everyone else. Do note that we are still in the free-and-clear phase, so various gangsters do have a chance to declare specific actions.

Regarding that crawling up part, depending on the group and the situation, this may or may not be two actions. Speaking for myself, I'd have the first part be worth a whole round, but have the victories (if successful) roll into the subsequent attack on the next round. I'd also fold them into one action (two rolls, one for setting up bonuses) if the character was using Fast.

Here's where I switched your text order, because the next part is a continuation of the part just quoted.

Quote
So what happens when one declared attack affects a group of people (an area effect) or is sustained ("I keep my finger pressed on the trigger", "I keep spurting flame into the bunker until there's no more movement!")?


All the same!! The attack can hit everyone, so it's one roll and multiple targets.

With one crucial point - we are assuming that in all cases above, the effect on multiple targets does not require the attacker's shifting attention from target to target. That's a no-brainer for the Molotov cocktail and for the grenade. It only works for the machine gun in the hallway if the hallway is narrow (and you did specify "heavy" machine gun, which to me is associated with really filling the air with lead).

When the attacker must shift his attention at all, then you are dealing with separate attacks, machine gun or not, and this "blanket attack" thing doesn't apply. For example, if the guys running up the hallway specify that they're going to try to time their rushes, rather than just barrelling up together. Or similarly, if one guy's jumping from the catwalk while the other's rushing down the hallway.

Now for the other topic - when demon abilities are involved.

Quote
4) "The Grave Drake, the harbinger of death rises above your brave little band, opening its mouth and sucking out your lifeforce (ranged special damage, swallow souls)

5) "You hear the eerie piping of the idiot blind god" etc... etc...
Quote


The default is to treat them as single-target attacks. Converting them conceptually to area attacks is allowed, but it must be defined when the ability is taken, or be so obvious to the group in a given context that there's not a shred of debate during play.

So the eerie piping strikes me as one of those obvious cases of moving beyond the default to a blanket attack, and the Grave Drake as, well, nearly obvious, and probably close enough. It's really Grave, after all, not just some weeny dragon.

Quote
And if you designed a demon with an area attack, could this possibly be another demon ability or is it implicit in ranged attacks?


Neither. It's not a demon ability, unlike Ranged, nor is it automatically gained using Ranged. It's strictly a matter of how the ability is defined in in-game terms when the demon is created, as well as the details of a given conflict scene.

I can anticipate one fearful reaction to this point - eh, Sean? "What if my players define their demon abilities so they affect hundreds of targets? Oh my God! The abuse!"

However. Use real-world equivalents, and it's easy. "My demon has fire breath that blankets the whole area in front of him!" Response: "Like a flame-thrower?"

Once that sort of thing is nailed down, then demon abilities are now understood to be grenades, rifles, knives, and machine-guns, just like the plain old weapons are, and treated accordingly.

It's also best to keep this sort of thing in mind when someone makes a combat monster demon, so that no one suddenly asks whether the sonic scream is a blanket attack during play itself - everyone should know this already, or the group should be prepared to accept one person's authority over without negotiation.

Best,
Ron
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Old_Scratch
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Posts: 128


« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2005, 02:08:38 PM »

Thanks Ron! Clear answers that summed everthing up nicely.

Regarding the Demon Abilities ("What, the demon's special damage gaze attack affects everyone who views it, even those meeting the gaze on TV!?!?!") may seem overwhelming, but I really think it boils down to the consensus of that is appropriate for that setting and those characters and what the group is comfortable with.

That's one thing I really enjoy about Sorcerer is the ability to customize and tweak the setting. You really picked a concept which is very central to conflict and with nearly limitless potential!

--Garett
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