Combat example

The enemy lurks in shadows
CapnZapp
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I would have loved to discuss WFRP4 in a frank unrestrained manner over at the main rpg forum on the net, but I have found that they're only interested in feel-good discussions and success stories, and that I would have only gotten myself a thread-ban (or worse) if I had called out WFRP4 as the steaming turd (though with a couple of yummy chunks* in there) it is.

It really is a near-complete failure as a game. All they had to do was fix and update 2E*, but after a good start in theory (with making Tests opposed), then they indiscriminately added in truckloads of stuff without testing each subsystem against each other. Like how the core idea to have unrestricted advantage accumulation simply doesn't work. Like how bonuses rack up without meaningful restrictions, utterly wrecking the active vs passive balance. The game is a nightmare of clutter: you easily end up with three or four modifiers to every roll. And the various subsystems add far too many rolls! (special hits, critical hits, condition rolls, armor rolls...) Monster stats are a catastrophic failure. And that's even before we go into nuances, like the way wizards are nerfed into oblivion, the way armor has been upgraded into a must-have and how critical hits are full of cluttery details but can't kill you while bleeding always does.

The only way I make sense of it is by assuming the devs simply don't run the game as written.

*) https://www.windsofchaos.com/forum/view ... ?f=5&t=216
**) The art direction seems to be moderately appreciated, and I acknowledge my players loved the careers system more than I did

Anyway, I would have loved for "WFRP4 is a trainwreck" to have become common knowledge, and not let C7 get away with a game that fails on so many fronts, but the way the Internet nowadays is structured, it is in noone's interest to let people say this without censure. That is why I appreciate these forums. Even though the audience is small, it's still an audience.
Graak
Posts: 51
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Plain censure or expressed discomfort for one player expressing his negative thoughts about any given game is something that I really grew bored of.

From the WFRP forums sponsored by the local publisher and translator...
...to Facebook groups where admins receive free books to "review".

Those are not free-speech places, imho they are only another advertising amplifiers.

That's the reason I really appreciate this forum. Thanks!
FasterThanJesus
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Location: UK

Those rpg.net forums are a bit of a joke. I occasionally read threads on there and often left perplexed at how moderated they are.

There was a thread about Cubicle 7 dropping The One Ring with one poster asking serious questions about Cubicle 7's ability to deliver. This got the poster banned from the thread despite the questions being reasonable and relavent. I actually think that poor project management may well be the route cause of those other issues we see here. I don't think Cubicle 7 have an issue with creativity, they have an issue with discipline and organisation.

I also saw CapnZapp getting banned from a thread for some reason.

And with that, I'm breaking my earlier point of going off topic.
Leith
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CapnZapp wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:41 am
Anyway, I would have loved for "WFRP4 is a trainwreck" to have become common knowledge, and not let C7 get away with a game that fails on so many fronts, but the way the Internet nowadays is structured, it is in noone's interest to let people say this without censure. That is why I appreciate these forums. Even though the audience is small, it's still an audience.
Have you considered, maybe, possibly, with the slimmest of chances, that some people, not all mind you, but certainly some, actually like WFRP4? Fiddly bits and all.

I don't mind the complexity. Advantage and mods and the +SL to damage, I find, make combat decisive. The various mods and extra rules are a bit much to keep in your head but I can't think of one I hate or one that would break the game if forgotten or removed.

That being said though, I get where people are coming from. This is far from an ideal way to design a combat system. I like it because it has interesting mechanics to play with and the flaws just don't matter to me, which is to say I don't view them as flaws. From my point of view it works.

The bestiary is mainly a problem for me because it has exactly 0 advice on how to adjust the challenge of combat, or other scenarios involving opposed rolls. Which does imply that the design team didn't have any good ideas about how to go about these things. I'll be interested to see what has gone into the GM guide in this regard.
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Orin J.
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Leith wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:41 pm
Have you considered, maybe, possibly, with the slimmest of chances, that some people, not all mind you, but certainly some, actually like WFRP4? Fiddly bits and all.
you can find adherents to every game system, if you look hard enough (there's still people playing first edition dungeons and dragons out there) but that doesn't mean the system is any good. i'm sure we can all agree that someone out there is going to like it, but that doesn't mean it's not a steaming pile someone dumped on the bedsheets.
Leith wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:41 pm
The bestiary is mainly a problem for me because it has exactly 0 advice on how to adjust the challenge of combat, or other scenarios involving opposed rolls. Which does imply that the design team didn't have any good ideas about how to go about these things. I'll be interested to see what has gone into the GM guide in this regard.
there is not stable way to adjust combat, the characters can vary too wildly (either forcing players to "keep up" with the most combat oriented member of the group or else forcing the GM to make wildly lopsided fights to satisfy everyone and still keep all their plates spinning) and the dice punish anything but having a massive advantage over the enemy leaving any balance at all in the hands of the GM. which seems to be a recurring theme, them expecting the GM to handle all the moving parts of the game without any guide rails to lean on without any protest or problem.

i'm fully expecting the GM book to mostly be fluff about considering the PCs better ad a few tables for random plot seeds.
Graak
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Modding without being a mod mode On.

Steaming pile... Steaming turd.

Could we please stop crossing the limit and keep this debate to a reasonable level of decency?
Not that I'm anyhow offended by those terms (I use far worse terms in my daily life) but I can see this kind of talk will get us nowhere when one part barricades themselves behind such epithets. And, on my part, in all sincerity last thing I would like is giving WFRP4 fans any excuse to label this forum as a toxic grognard hole proving that somehow 4th edition opposition is pure grognardy (imho, it's not. It's a factor, but 4th edition remains basically a BIG MESS).

Having said that, please let's restrain our enthusiasm (or lack of it).


Modding without being a mod mode Off.


By my part I hardly think there will be any (valid) advice on how "adjust" combat encounter given the unstable snowballing mechanics that constitute the core of 4th edition.

But let's see...
CommanderCax
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As probably the oldest grognard around, I am also of the opinion the system is indeed fiddly at times that it really hurts (e.g. having like 4 Cool tests if using Intimidate to cause Fear...), but after one year of real game experience with 4th ed. I can say it is more straightforward in many senses that 1st and 2nd ed. by far (where (pillow-)fights could take hours of frustrating dice rolls)...

Calling it a trainwreck or a steaming pile of **** does not sound very mature, but maybe fits to the radical statements of todays internet culture... :? .
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Toby Pilling
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I've been playing WFRP since it first came out in 1986, through all editions, and I quite like this most recent one. I've been playing in a campaign for over a year with numerous combats and not found anything broken in the system.
RancidWalrus
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Orin J. wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:19 am
i'm fully expecting the GM book to mostly be fluff about considering the PCs better ad a few tables for random plot seeds.
Are we expecting a GM book? Sorry, I don't keep up with the news and wasn't expecting one (1e and 2e didn't i believe, and 3e maybe?)

FWIW, My group and I are enjoying 4e with houserules (I had a bigger problem with 2e's foibles so far), but I am always trying to improve the game I run, so having problems pointed out is always appreciated! Secret problems can't be fixed.

While a better bestiary and guidance on its usage would be nice, it is possible to go too far with it and make it too structured; I can't stand to play D&D anymore - the assumption that the encounters are 'balanced' takes away any sense of danger and leads my groups to limit their strategies to 'charge' (This is both as a player and GM). This doesn't happen in WFRP, even with the underpowered opponents presented in the book, there is always a sense of fear and danger (and then they 1-shot the enemy leader/monster of course!).
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Orin J.
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RancidWalrus wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:19 pm
Orin J. wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:19 am
i'm fully expecting the GM book to mostly be fluff about considering the PCs better ad a few tables for random plot seeds.
Are we expecting a GM book? Sorry, I don't keep up with the news and wasn't expecting one (1e and 2e didn't i believe, and 3e maybe?)
the rumor is they're making a GM-focused book, i dunno if officially it's been confirmed and honestly i'm waiting until we see it hit print to state C7 is doing anything for a fact...
Graak
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RancidWalrus wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:19 pm
I can't stand to play D&D anymore - the assumption that the encounters are 'balanced' takes away any sense of danger and leads my groups to limit their strategies to 'charge' (This is both as a player and GM). This doesn't happen in WFRP
This never happened in WFRP.
Balanced doesn't means "you can do whatever you want and you finally win". What I mean is that a bestiary should take effort to introduce some criteria to evaluate the lethality of a given creature for the PCs or to adjust it to the desiderable level of lethality (rising or lowering stats and adding a few talents or skills without becoming insane while doing it).
D&D took "balance" concept at an absurd mathematical level (because the way levels are structured there is an abyss between a low level and a high level PC).
RancidWalrus
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I agree completely!
Leith
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Does no one feel that the snowball thing (I assume this is a reference to how advantage and differences in skill ratings affect hitting, damage and avoiding getting hit, whilst also being self-perpetuating) helps make combat risky?

My experience is that if the PCs don't take control of a situation and blunder into battle at least one of them is going to get maimed.

My PCs are still under 2k though. So I'm still sorting out the mess of difficulty adjustment.

Here's a combat example though: WE Bounty Hunter, HE Spy 2nd level and a human Servant sneak up on some goblins (straight out of bestiary, 2 with bows, one with spellcasting and cunning) and a swarm of snotlings.
The PCs gloop the shaman right away (they have no idea how magic works and therefore no idea that that character is practically not a threat). Then they spent a turn crushing snotlings and another 2 battleing the archers. The bounty hunter went down in round 2 and came out of the fight in need of surgery. The spy and servant not a scratch.
The fight was not intended to be particularly dangerous. Just enough to have them think about how to deal with the situation. And one of them still ended up full of arrows.
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Orin J.
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Leith wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:04 am
Does no one feel that the snowball thing (I assume this is a reference to how advantage and differences in skill ratings affect hitting, damage and avoiding getting hit, whilst also being self-perpetuating) helps make combat risky?
risk that cannot be properly controlled by the gamemaster isn't a good thing. The middle ground between "not a threat" and "will wipe the party" with 4th's system is "one of the two previous choices at random" which isn't really a good way to handle combat because it doesn't give anyone a good way to gauge how far the party can press their luck. and while the players shouldn't know that, they guy running the show very much needs to.
CapnZapp
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Leith wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:04 am
Does no one feel that the snowball thing (I assume this is a reference to how advantage and differences in skill ratings affect hitting, damage and avoiding getting hit, whilst also being self-perpetuating) helps make combat risky?

My experience is that if the PCs don't take control of a situation and blunder into battle at least one of them is going to get maimed.
First off, if your way of "taking control of a situation" is by "blunder into battle" you're not exactly inspire confidence... ;)
CapnZapp
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Second, the problem is that advantage makes metagaming important.

Telling your archer to shoot the Orc Chieftain because everybody else is fighting Orc Grunts and that Chieftain is starting to snowball advantage by mowing down the hapless town guard is entirely unwelcome.

You're not shooting at him because that's the target you're trying to kill. You're shooting at him because there's an abstract game rule making him unstoppable except by ranged fire: just a single hit and he's contained.

Yes, veteran gamers will quickly master the metagame layer, so the point isn't that you can manage it.

The point is: why is this layer of metagaming even in the game? Players shouldn't metagame (do what's good for the game), they should game (do what's good for their characters). It is entirely unwelcome. Nobody asked for it. It doesn't solve any problems. It does introduce a shitload of problems of its own, but the biggest by far is:

It transforms the game. No longer is conventional things like combat tactics, equipment, your surroundings etc important. Now the all-consuming importance is advantage. You don't need skill just as long as you can rack up five or ten advantage before the big fight. Advantage means the optimal way to play the game is by fishing for it at every instance, no matter if it makes any sense in the story. It amplifies the worst behavior a player can have, which is to focus on the game rules at the total expense of inhabiting a character with wants and needs and fears and weaknesses. It blows immersion and verisimilitude out the water when players stop focusing on what their character can do and wants to do, and instead takes every opportunity to gain Advantage.

It's not that the basic concept of escalation is objectively wrong. I can totally see it... in a game about robots or superheroes.

WFRP, on the other hand, is not a Sunday morning cartoon. It's just wrong for WFRP.
easl
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Leith wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:04 am
My experience is that if the PCs don't take control of a situation and blunder into battle at least one of them is going to get maimed.

My PCs are still under 2k though. So I'm still sorting out the mess of difficulty adjustment.

Here's a combat example though...The fight was not intended to be particularly dangerous. Just enough to have them think about how to deal with the situation. And one of them still ended up full of arrows.
Thanks for the combat example. (On the "combat example" thread even!) Always good to read about a real play experience.
easl
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Orin J. wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:02 am
risk that cannot be properly controlled by the gamemaster isn't a good thing.
I somewhat disagree. Players do crazy things, including taking risks the gamemaster never anticipated them taking. These situations can be hard to GM (especially if you're GMing a set adventure, rather than a more sandbox campaign), but
(a) players should certainly be allowed to do them. IOW, they are 'good things' and not 'bad things' merely because the GM isn't prepared to adjudicate such a scene, and
(b) I would say they are more "par for the course" than "not a good thing."
CapnZapp
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easl wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:40 pm
Orin J. wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:02 am
risk that cannot be properly controlled by the gamemaster isn't a good thing.
I somewhat disagree. Players do crazy things, including taking risks the gamemaster never anticipated them taking. These situations can be hard to GM (especially if you're GMing a set adventure, rather than a more sandbox campaign), but
(a) players should certainly be allowed to do them. IOW, they are 'good things' and not 'bad things' merely because the GM isn't prepared to adjudicate such a scene, and
(b) I would say they are more "par for the course" than "not a good thing."
You're talking about player (character) actions.

Orin is talking about something entirely different: game mechanics. He's talking about how the GM must be able to trust the game engine to provide reasonably consistent results (weak monsters resulting in a survivable encounter, say). WFRP4 provides an unacceptably unstable and chaotic foundation in this regard. It has nothing to do with players making stupid decisions or taking foolish actions, which of course they should be allowed to make/do.

It has everything to do with how Cubicle 7 needs to be held accountable for taking a reasonable stable game like WFRP2 and destroying that stability in WFRP4 by making a myriad large and small changes that individually might seem reasonable but if taken together falls apart completely.
Graak
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easl wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:40 pm
Orin J. wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:02 am
risk that cannot be properly controlled by the gamemaster isn't a good thing.
I somewhat disagree. Players do crazy things, including taking risks the gamemaster never anticipated them taking. These situations can be hard to GM (especially if you're GMing a set adventure, rather than a more sandbox campaign), but
(a) players should certainly be allowed to do them. IOW, they are 'good things' and not 'bad things' merely because the GM isn't prepared to adjudicate such a scene, and
(b) I would say they are more "par for the course" than "not a good thing."
I may be wrong but it seems to me you are talking about 2 different things here.

Easl: you seem to be talking about the unpredictability of players initiative, that are particularly free to roam around and do crazy stuff in certain adventures (sandbox games above others).
And that’s one thing.
Another thing is what Orin’s talking about: the ability/necessity to control the encounters outcome by the GM, not the players’ initiative on the story.


I think that if talking about the freedom of the players we are taking a tangent route that would take us very far from the baseline necessity of combat encounters management.

For what is worth I agree with Orin’view:
crazy stuff is fun, unpredicatability is somehow fun when it is the exception …but a GM can’t simply throw enemies to the players waiting for the random (or unpredictable) outcome every now and then. A game should have the instruments/criteria to manage a given fight in order to steer the wheel of fate in some direction or the other, in a few words: risk management for the players.
Let’s see if this could be achieved by the next installments on 4th edition line.

Regarding instead the metagame level introduced by Advantage-grabbing rules I completely agree with Capnzapp here.
No one asked for it, I think it is a really bad side-effect of the core mechanics. Sure, you can narratively justify ex post the need to stop that Orc Chieftain from slaughtering the guards planting an arrow on its knee. But the REAL reason remains that you don’t want him in your face full of Advantage gathered harvesting NPCs.
Can this be contained? Probably yes, capping Advantage to 1 or 2 levels …but I’m not sure what’s the point of having a ton-load of talents and sub-mechanics about advantage then if we start to limit it…at this point I would simply import ONLY the strictly capped advantage rule to other editions and get free of metagame-y talents and special abilities playing WFRP 1st (it already had some LIGHT advantage rule, and for what is worth I think that the simpler the better in RPGs) or 2nd ed.


Last but not least: thanks for the combat example. Please keep them coming!
I would be curious about the results of re-running the same combat scene several times. Random and unpredictability results can happen even with WFRP2, but they are more common with low stats characters (es: cultists VS newly-created PCs). When things get more stable (higher stats 40-45%, some shield, light/medium armor on the warriors) the outcome become far more manageable by the GM, even when using more dangerous enemies. Some PC could be downed nontheless, but the overall outcome of the encounter is easily manageable from the GM.

Edit: grammar
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