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Movement & Combat


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Hi Keepers and Cultists

Help me make combat more interesting in my Pulp Cthulhu games.

We use Theater of the Mind so Combat isn't using grid maps or stuff like that, I find that it feels kinda meh tho the way I run it. The players are either in melee or closer or far away from someone, this to me makes all the 1/4th of DEX and MOV ratings feel pointless.

How do you handle movement and combat? Should I use gridless maps with Minis just to give the players a ideas of the fight area? How do YOU handle Movement (running during your turn, walking, etc) and combat in your games?

Also how do you handle monsters/cultists in theater of the mind? I often forget which cultist attacks the player and how much HP he had vs another cultist attacking another player. Most often it doesn't matter they are either dead or alive but with creatures with more HP it would be more fair to know which one has 5 hp and which has 15hp and so on ...

Any advice is appreciated 🙂 Thanks!

Edited by Keeper Bolog
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At the table I often just quickly draw the scene out on a sheet of paper to provide an easy ref.; it provides a bit of clarity for everyone. Online, we couldn't be bothered with anything fancy and just held a scrawled page-sized whiteboard to the camera to give an idea of the scene. It's not fancy, but it provides a bit of clarity and gives folks enough to work with. You can use round magnets labelled with a dry-wipe pen, assuming your whiteboard takes them. Might not be flash, but imagination overcomes all.

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23 hours ago, Cloud64 said:

At the table I often just quickly draw the scene out on a sheet of paper to provide an easy ref.; it provides a bit of clarity for everyone. Online, we couldn't be bothered with anything fancy and just held a scrawled page-sized whiteboard to the camera to give an idea of the scene. It's not fancy, but it provides a bit of clarity and gives folks enough to work with. You can use round magnets labelled with a dry-wipe pen, assuming your whiteboard takes them. Might not be flash, but imagination overcomes all.

Thats nice! I might try that out but use my Pathfinder Dry Erase Flip-Mat instead.

I already hand them the pre-generated Maps most scenarios come with, but I find that that does not really do much in combat. Maybe I care too much about the combat part of the game tho and shouldn't.

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I usually scribble out some sort of rough map just so the players know where everyone and everything is.  It usually not to to character scale either. One of the drawbacks to a battle mat is that it forces GMs to put everything close together. No one is every really out of range with 5-10 foot squares. 

If you want to make things more interesting, make the setting more interactive. Come up with a few details about the area where you are staging the fight, and think of how the the characters could incorporate them into the battle. For instance, if they are in an old warehouse, there could be a forklift someone could hope into a use to push , racks with various products that could be toppled onto cultists or maybe a power line that could be used to electrocute something. An alleyway could have a dumpster, a fire escape, some broken bottles, an open door to the busy kitchen of a restaurant Just think up a few features for the scene.

Then have a NPC use one of those features in a fight to help get the players thinking of such things. 

 

 

 

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Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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10 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

I usually scribble out some sort of rough map just so the players know where everyone and everything is.  It usually not to to character scale either. One of the drawbacks to a battle mat is that it forces GMs to put everything close together. No one is every really out of range with 5-10 foot squares. 

If you want to make things more interesting, make the setting more interactive. Come up with a few details about the area where you are staging the fight, and think of how the the characters could incorporate them into the battle. For instance, if they are in an old warehouse, there could be a forklift someone could hope into a use to push , racks with various products that could be toppled onto cultists or maybe a power line that could be used to electrocute something. An alleyway could have a dumpster, a fire escape, some broken bottles, an open door to the busy kitchen of a restaurant Just think up a few features for the scene.

Then have a NPC use one of those features in a fight to help get the players thinking of such things. 

 

 

 

This is really great! I should indeed ad more flavor to the scenes rather than have them be fist fights in an empty void! Next game I will try this out, thanks !

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7 hours ago, Keeper Bolog said:

This is really great! I should indeed ad more flavor to the scenes rather than have them be fist fights in an empty void! Next game I will try this out, thanks !

You welcome. It's actually from Fate: Spirit of the Century

What they did was give locations aspects that could be tagged for bonuses, like with characters. So if you were fighting a bad guy in a burning building you could tag the "burning" aspect for a bonus to your combat roll (or escape roll). BRP game mechanics are different, but the concept ports over. You could even use one of those "things you find in a..." tables to help you round out a location. 

 

The idea works outside of combat too. I once stressed out a PC who was doing a little B&E to check out a warehouse just by having him step into a water dish as he climbed in through the window. Amazing what a water dish with "GOLIATH" written on it can do. The guard took the dog home with him, but the PC didn't know that, and spent the next half hour on edge expecting the guard dog to appear. Next time I do something like that, I think I'll make Goliath a Toy Poodle. 

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Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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On 2/8/2024 at 4:20 PM, Atgxtg said:

You welcome. It's actually from Fate: Spirit of the Century

What they did was give locations aspects that could be tagged for bonuses, like with characters. So if you were fighting a bad guy in a burning building you could tag the "burning" aspect for a bonus to your combat roll (or escape roll). BRP game mechanics are different, but the concept ports over. You could even use one of those "things you find in a..." tables to help you round out a location. 

 

The idea works outside of combat too. I once stressed out a PC who was doing a little B&E to check out a warehouse just by having him step into a water dish as he climbed in through the window. Amazing what a water dish with "GOLIATH" written on it can do. The guard took the dog home with him, but the PC didn't know that, and spent the next half hour on edge expecting the guard dog to appear. Next time I do something like that, I think I'll make Goliath a Toy Poodle. 

Haha the Goliath bit is awesome!

Thanks mate for the tips, i`ll try to incorporate some of this into my future games. Stuff like this would work well with my Masks pulp game

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1 hour ago, Keeper Bolog said:

Haha the Goliath bit is awesome!

The hard part was trying to keep from laughing while running the adventure.

A key thing here is that RPGs take plac ein our heads. So if you can put an idea into the heads of your players it is real to them. 

 

It's the same with NPCs. How tough the appear to the players has less to do with their actual stats and more to do with how you present them to the players, dice rolls included. In one game the GM got on a hot streak with a minor NPC ( a street urchin) and rolled double crticals with two pistols.  We didn't know that and just assumed he was a great shot. By the time the GM told us about the double criticals, the NPC was an officer in the musketeers and actually had become a great shot

 

1 hour ago, Keeper Bolog said:

Thanks mate for the tips, i`ll try to incorporate some of this into my future games. Stuff like this would work well with my Masks pulp game

Good luck, and have fun.

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Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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