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Major Wounds and NPCs


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Trying to get my head around the combat system and it seems like Major Wounds is more of a PC facing thing - especially "Roll to see if you get Attribute Loss, that happens right now."

Currently considering dropping that particular point for NPCs, as it feels like a lot of hassle and tracking for very little usefulness; does anyone here bother with it for NPCs, or is this just a thing to quietly ignore for them?

Edited by piersb
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...actually p6 of the Book of Armies says "MW: Major Wound value, useful to calculate whether a foe was knocked down and out."

So I'm going to rule that for anything non-magical at least, a Major Wound takes an NPC out of the battle.

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I do the HP roll to see if they are knocked out and the Valorous roll if they dare to continue to fight. If they are a named NPC who might show again as a recurring for, I do track attribute loss as well. But for the nameless spearmen etc, I do not bother.

In battle, we generally don't bother rolling for damage during the battle rounds, unless it is an extended melee or a lance charge where your lance might break. (Note: we don't use BoB2.)

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Even using BoB2, I don’t find the MW information particularly useful.  If it’s a major named character, I’ll probably zoom in and do that as normal melee anyway, and otherwise — who really cares if this particular Grunting Warrior is taken out of the battle or not?

Just to second Morien, though — in normal melee, the unconsciousness and Valorous rolls are important, as otherwise enemies will be much more deadly for your PKs.   Also, the attribute losses can be fun under certain circumstances.  I’ve had the situation where a CON loss due to Major Wound meant that later on, an opponent fell unconscious when they wouldn’t have if they hadn’t suffered the Major Wound.

One possible way to streamline the attribute loss: roll 1d6 and another die.  1-5 on the d6 and odd on the other die = -1 DEX; 1-5 on the d6 and even on the other die = -1 extra hp (= -1 CON, handwave recalculating Unconscious threshold).  This is if you don’t care to recalculate damage on the fly —  assume that it never affects STR or SIZ.

Edited by Voord 99
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It is, admittedly, a big deal to lose the possibility of a better chance of Knockdown with a SIZ loss, so perhaps one might just want to roll as normal and say that damage and unconsciousness threshold, for speed, are never affected, and only effects that require simple subtraction apply.

Edited by Voord 99
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1 hour ago, Voord 99 said:

Just to second Morien, though — in normal melee, the unconsciousness and Valorous rolls are important, as otherwise enemies will be much more deadly for your PKs.   

For un-named opponents I'm planning to go a step further and have one of those rolls automatically fail to speed things up - so as soon as a bad guy gets an MW they're either down or running away, depending on which I feel like.

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2 hours ago, piersb said:

For un-named opponents I'm planning to go a step further and have one of those rolls automatically fail to speed things up - so as soon as a bad guy gets an MW they're either down or running away, depending on which I feel like.

Easy criteria for (unimportant) NPCs (like unnamed footmen):
If their remaining HPs are 10 or less, they are unconscious.
If their remaining HPs are more than 10, they are running away (if they can) or surrendering (if they can expect anything more than a summary execution).
Exceptions made for dramatic reasons (like, if they are defending their families, they won't run nor surrender, unless it is on terms).

This does make them a bit easier foes for the PKs (SIZ 12, CON 12, Valorous 12 spearman is quite likely to fail at least one roll of the above, ~2/3rds chance), but speeds up the combat a bit, too.

Edited by Morien
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  • 1 month later...
On 8/21/2021 at 2:46 PM, Voord 99 said:

Even using BoB2, I don’t find the MW information particularly useful.

During big battles, it's only useful if your players are going to extended rounds.

During skirmishes, for minor foes (robbers, footmen, wolves), a MW is enough to win. For tough opponents (saxons, knights, monsters), I use the complete rules. But of course, as a GM, I use my wits to decide as well. Even a brave knight won't risk his life for some trifle matter, etc.
Of course, I don't care if some random NPC lost one attribute point. Except, for big names or personal rivals.

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25 minutes ago, Voord 99 said:

Is there a rule somewhere that I missed (there could definitely be such a rule somewhere!) that says that in battle, a Major Wound means an automatic capture? 

BoB2, p. 78: "Prisoners may also be taken when an opponent has been knocked unconscious, most likely through a Major Wound."

However, this is NOT automatic. You basically have to do a 'rescue' of the fallen enemy in extended melee, while his friends try to kill you. It is not easy and definitely not automatic.

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Doesn’t “most likely” mean that unconsciousness itself is not automatic?   And of course you only know if a Major Wound knocks them unconscious if you also know their HP, or makes them surrender if you also know their Valorous.  You can make those up on the fly, but you could also make up the Major Wound on the fly — it’s just a matter of deciding what the typical CON is.

So I think this strengthens my original objection, if anything — the MW score by itself is not very useful, and it is odd that it is given for every opponent as if it had a real use.  Statted-up versions with the MW alongside other key combat stats would be another matter.  I’d be in favor of those, as they would also have a fair bit of usefulness outside battles.

But there’s no particular value to having the MW alone for e.g. Grunting Warriors.  Even its utility here does not apply to the many opponents who are not ransomable.

I can however see a case for having a rule that in battle, MW = automatic unconsciousness, as often opponents would have taken many wounds and slip below Unconsciousness that way.  But there’s no way to track that, so compensate by saying all Major Wounds mean unconsciousness. 

Edited by Voord 99
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