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5/05/2014 11:17 pm  #1


Low combat campaign

       Our GM wants to be a player now, and i want to GM.  we have one or two other players who are happy to play quick games on sunday before everyone else arrives for the main, or whenever else we may get the chance.
           Howevor, they seem to like the idea of changing the tide towards a much more peaceful kind of quest, using their charachter's abilities to avoid combat if and whenever possible.  So far I have a wandering cleric who smokes and preaches the wonderous properties of his "Green Lotus",  and a monk who turned his back on his monestary in favor of a quest for inner peace following the cleric.                
         Now I like the idea of a knowledge driven, role-play heavy campaign, and I'm up to the challenge, but cutting down on combat is a very serious challenge to me.  I'm going to have to think less Conan and more Call of Ktulu,  and devise ways to challenge the players outside of combat, or at least give them interesting things to do once they inevitably get captured by combatants.  Anyone running simmillar adventures in as&sh or have advice?  Am I running a fool's errand? 

 

5/05/2014 11:29 pm  #2


Re: Low combat campaign

Well, I'm not positive that it fits the genre completely, which has always been a bloody affair. But there are certainly possibilities. There are a lot of mysteries in Hyperborea. What are the ape-men up to? What's the deal with the minotaurs? I just don't see what they'd tell you without a fight . . .

That said, I came up with a CoC-like research mechanic in case it's helpful:

http://hyperborea.boardhost.com/viewtopic.php?id=76

I was thinking it would be for checking up on adventure hooks and whatnot in the downtime, but I'm sure it would be more generally adaptable.

 

5/05/2014 11:53 pm  #3


Re: Low combat campaign

I did come accross that before, but thanks for reminding me as thats the exact kind of thing these players will need to get familiar with if they intend to adventure at all without any intent of slaying.  In the future they may have followers that could protect them, maby for now they need to hitch up with a larger group that could put their skills to use?
             thank you for the response, man you'r quick on the draw....

     Thread Starter
 

5/06/2014 12:59 am  #4


Re: Low combat campaign

One good way is to have the PCs face overwhelming opposition, which makes direct combat unfeasable. So they will need to find other ways to get past guards and into places.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

5/06/2014 2:17 am  #5


Re: Low combat campaign

Not to steer you away from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers, but honestly, I'd probably just play a different system than AS&SH (or any descendants of D&D). If you take out combat, what you're left with isn't much mechanically.

If you are more interested in a storytelling/roleplaying campaign, then a game like BRP/Runequest/OpenQuest doesn't have to be very combat centric, because characters are not super men and can be fairly easily overwhelmed if faced with numbers (as it would be in real-life) but there are tons of skills and ways to approach problem solving and roleplaying. And although I couldn't get into it, I thought Barbarians of Lemuria's Careers system was interesting and might allow for the kind of play you are seeking.

 

5/06/2014 7:42 am  #6


Re: Low combat campaign

RedJowel wrote:

thank you for the response, man you'r quick on the draw....

Heh. Had to distract myself somehow from listening the Yankees lose. Maybe they did it honor of Ghul's webcast premiere.

NAJones makes sense. It's just hard to get away from the fact that life in Hyperborea tends to the nasty, brutish, and short--and one of the few ways to keep enjoying the nasty brutishness a little longer is to hit harder than everyone else. There's certainly room for PC research and delving into ancient libraries and stores of arcana (maybe even adaptiin the GW flow chart for figuring out what things do). But it seems to leave the game somewhat behind.

Maybe my thoughts are colored by the fact that my players and I revel in the nasty, brutish, and short. It's kind of our wheelhouse.

 

5/06/2014 8:39 am  #7


Re: Low combat campaign

NAJones wrote:

Not to steer you away from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers, but honestly, I'd probably just play a different system than AS&SH (or any descendants of D&D). If you take out combat, what you're left with isn't much mechanically.

Which isn't a bad thing. Frankly, the only thing specific to Sword & Sorcery in AS&SH is the Hyberborea Setting that comes bundled with the rules, and the name on the front cover. The rules themselves are not any more or less S&S than any other OSR game.

And I think not having much menchanically for stuff that isn't combat is a good thing. The thing that draws me to OSR games is that the rules seem to be made to help playing a game of adventure. But the rules are not the game. Sometimes I need to tell a player if the character can do a certain thing or fails at it, but the answer is not obvious and I don't want to make an arbitrary descision on a whim. I want to remain at least somewhat impartial and not give preference to some players over others. Test and Feats of Stength (and Dex and Con), carrying capacity, movement rate, and utility spells can help getting an impartial result, and that is about as much detail as I need or want.

The last adventure I ran friday had very little and only very short fights. I wrote a report of the whole thing here.

The next adventure will be a lot bigger, but combat not be much much common. I've just started preparing this, but I can already see the many possibilities for noncombat challenges the players will have to face.
The PCs learn that the old hermit who trained one of them as a cleric is missing and his home in the hills looted. The PCs go to find him and encounter a group of bandits taking another load of loot from the house. They may fight them and follow their tracks, capture one and make him talk, or stay hidden and see where they are going. This leads the PCs to an abandoned mine deeper in the hills where the bandits have slaves digging for an old burried treasure. However, the mine hasn't been maintained in ages and there's creatures living in the darkness now, and the bandits have neither explore nor cleared most of the tunnels. Finding the dig site, survivng the dangerous environment and creatures, and hopefully not alerting the bandits should be quite a challenge. Once the bandits are driven off and the slaves freed, the slaves will tell the PCs that they were part of a larger group taken by raiders from the marshes, and can point them to the main camp of the raiders. However, they already finished their raiding and are on the journey home, with their loot and their slaves.
The PCs might be able to get the horses of the bandits or not, and they may have brought supplies for two weeks in the wilds or not. This will determine if they can catch up to the raiders before they make it home. (Unknown to them, the hermit was not taken, but is following the raiders as well to learn the location of their village and come back with reinforcements later.) Getting out of the hills and potentially deep into the marches will be another big challenge itself. And one of the bandits might have escaped from the mine and trying to warn the raiders. The PCs might be fast enough to catch him, or he might warn the raiders so they can set traps and ambushes.
If the PCs fail to catch the raiders in time, they will need to get inside the village and free the slaves, but won't have the power to take on all the dozens of warriors all by themselves (since they are still just 1st level) and even if they can free the slaves, they still have to get a group of 20 noncombatants through a dangerous wilderness, potentially with pursuers on their heels.

This is still an early draft with barely any details, but I think exploring the mines, dealing with the marshes, and freeing the slaves will make up the vast majority of the adventure, while barely containing any combat themselves. There are three opportunities for a big fight, but even in those cases the players will benefit greatly from using trickery instead of a frontal assault.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

5/06/2014 12:23 pm  #8


Re: Low combat campaign

RedJowel wrote:

       Our GM wants to be a player now, and i want to GM.  we have one or two other players who are happy to play quick games on sunday before everyone else arrives for the main, or whenever else we may get the chance.
           Howevor, they seem to like the idea of changing the tide towards a much more peaceful kind of quest, using their charachter's abilities to avoid combat if and whenever possible.  So far I have a wandering cleric who smokes and preaches the wonderous properties of his "Green Lotus",  and a monk who turned his back on his monestary in favor of a quest for inner peace following the cleric.                
         Now I like the idea of a knowledge driven, role-play heavy campaign, and I'm up to the challenge, but cutting down on combat is a very serious challenge to me.  I'm going to have to think less Conan and more Call of Ktulu,  and devise ways to challenge the players outside of combat, or at least give them interesting things to do once they inevitably get captured by combatants.  Anyone running simmillar adventures in as&sh or have advice?  Am I running a fool's errand? 

Back in the old days when OD&D was it we managed to have mysteries and quests without combat.  I don't think its a fools errand particularly since both players desire that type of thing. Balancing a group of players with a mix of desires / agendas is tougher, I think, so no one feels bored.


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

5/06/2014 1:57 pm  #9


Re: Low combat campaign

How about combat that's not really combat? I love the idea of opposing forces being resolved metaphorically in metaphysick "battles" which take place entirely in the minds of the characters.
I always wanted to handle wizardly ascension similar to that of druids using this approach...

Or is it that you're simply tired of rolling "to hit"?
 

 

5/06/2014 3:24 pm  #10


Re: Low combat campaign

It really comes down to the personas of the characters the players seem to want to play, taking a wandering sage approach.  I don't intend to cut out combat entirely by any means (for the last ten years every character I've rolled save maby one has been some kind of fighter, I like hitting fleshy things with swords.....a lot),  but the steady stream of violence i know and love is going to have to be stoppered somewhat if I intend to keep the characters alive.  
       Basically the GM wants in on some as&sh as a player, and a couple other's could go for more gaming as well, it's just the characters are not heavy weights so they are not looking to get in a brawl with armored gaurds anytime soon.  They do agree with the style of party, so Im not worried about dissension in the group.  Maby they bribe the gaurds, convert them, trick them, and the challenge for me is giving them options to bypass combat to accomplish goals (whatever the goals of a wandering sage may be, man i really am used to violent greedy bastards).  Anway all great stuff here,  thanks everyone for the thought meats.

     Thread Starter
 

5/06/2014 4:13 pm  #11


Re: Low combat campaign

I like violence to be meaningful when it happens. Characters should be highly aversive of putting themselves into mortal danger unless they think it's really necessary. If combat is rare, it's even more of a crisis situation when it happens. That doesn't mean the game is nonviolent, instead I hope to make it actually more brutal.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

5/07/2014 11:59 am  #12


Re: Low combat campaign

I didn't mean to suggest my campaigns revolve around violence, actually I agree that combat should have some weight to it, and consequences.  I'm just not used to the PCs all being delicate in the first place,  but I'm sure they will surprise me with their adaptability as players tend to.  

     Thread Starter
 

5/07/2014 12:42 pm  #13


Re: Low combat campaign

As it so happens, I had a skeleton crew last night: two players. They played their 1st level thieves, and throughout the night they did everything in their power to avoid a fight, using skill, negotiation, and a willingness to run at every step of the way. We didn't have a single combat the whole night, but it didn't feel that way.


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

5/07/2014 6:43 pm  #14


Re: Low combat campaign

Thats cool,  I'm sure there wil be plenty of excitement as they run, jump and bluff their way through, and it's cool knowing even one armored gaurd is a dangerous and intimidating pressence(at least physically).  research into goals and destination will deffinately serve them well.  I don't know, guess I'll have to actually get a game going now and see just how they end up playing these characters and what their immediate goals may be.

     Thread Starter
 

5/08/2014 5:44 am  #15


Re: Low combat campaign

mabon5127 wrote:

RedJowel wrote:

Now I like the idea of a knowledge driven, role-play heavy campaign, and I'm up to the challenge, but cutting down on combat is a very serious challenge to me.  I'm going to have to think less Conan and more Call of Ktulu,  and devise ways to challenge the players outside of combat, or at least give them interesting things to do once they inevitably get captured by combatants.

Back in the old days when OD&D was it we managed to have mysteries and quests without combat.  I don't think its a fools errand particularly since both players desire that type of thing. Balancing a group of players with a mix of desires / agendas is tougher, I think, so no one feels bored.

Keep in mind that the whole "non combat" campaign has to be a choice of both players and GM, so it's not entirely your burden to come up with things for the players to do. They ought to be generating many of these ideas as well.

Mabon is correct about early OD&D -- while our group had its share of dungeon crawls and barroom brawls, we also did a lot of investigation stuff and "rescue the princess" adventures where the goal was to get in and out without getting ourselves killed. You can steal a page from the "Call of Cthulhu" RPG and have some big nasties that the players might want to destroy through ritual rather than fight. You can have them run errands for sorcerers who are in need of spell components. You can center a campaign in a city full of intrigue, where killing someone will get you run out of town or worse. There are many options you can pursue that don't involve combat on a regular basis, but you need to be sure that the players are interested in that style of play as well.

Fundamentally I don't see that you have to switch game systems at all, only keep in mind that you will probably have to "wing it" through stat checks and the like occasionally. Heck, I do that all the time and prefer it to a rules set which gets too intense in terms of skill lists and the like. And when combat does occur, which it most certainly will have to on occasion, you've got your AS&SH realy for action.

Just my two coppers.


Marv / Finarvyn
DCC playtester (2011), S&W WhiteBox Author (2009), C&C playtester (2003), Metamorphosis Alpha since 1976. OD&D Player since 1975
 

5/09/2014 2:30 pm  #16


Re: Low combat campaign

Yeah, I have kind of had my fill of the 3rd ed extensive skill lists.  I think they actually limit creativity more often then not, players feel like they can only attempt things that they dumped skill points into and shy away from trying anything that isn't directly covered by the list.  We'r all going to have to "wing it" a lot more and I don't think thats a bad thing, I imagine their will be more failures but more glorious attempts, to steal a little from Yora's quote

     Thread Starter
 

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