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Thread: NewStoryteller: Combat improvement?

  1. #1

    NewStoryteller: Combat improvement?

    I have played lotr once, about two years ago. i recall very little about combat in game except one of our players seemed to have an insanely high attack score, and the rest of the party who did not focus their skills on combat abilities could hardly ever hit.

    I have been reading alot of complaints on the systems combat rules, and have also found many payers saying that there are many house rules that can fix these problems. does any one have a good source for these house rules? I found an article at halls of fire that allows characters to do more damage, and i think i will implement this. i would like combat to feel a little more like tolkiens writings and less like jacksons films.

    can any experienced narrators offer some pointers and suggestions to a first time lotr story teller?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    central Rhine area / Germany
    Hey Tinman!

    I curious what exactly your problem is?! So far I have had a couple of games mayself and actually never liked the combat system very much due to the clumsy way it uses "extra success" in combat but it worked quite well nevertheless, especially if I used the narrative tools of combat pacing rules.
    Yet since I don't like the system I started to do some modifications that include more combat maneouvers based on narrative effect as well as some sort of wound system that allows for hit locations and aimed blows. What I have kept is the fairly large amount of Hitpoints since I wanted to allow my players to participate in a large amount of martial conflicts and slowly being drained of their health instead of beeing quickly killed in the first encounter.
    Since healing is realistically slow in the game it takes a very long time to get rid of even the most minor wounds (small amount of HP) and therefore the characters are almost constantly carrying around at least minor negative modifiers. This keeps them way more efective from enganging in nonsense-combat than any delicate system of deadly criticals ever could.

    And in the end combat is something for professionals. I would not expect a hobbit craftmaster to hold his own in a direct conflict with an orc or worse. So it's quite likely that the orc will be more than able to parry most of the hobbits blows while he finishes the little rat fairly quickly.
    And then you have those mighty warriors from Dol Amroth...clad in plate armor with sword and shield or with a spear thrust through the throat of the enemy, up from their mighty who is the pro in this picture? Do you really expect an orc could do anything against a full trained knight? If so...the free people of the west would never have won the war of the rings so outnumbered as they were. I think the games combat system reflects the books fairly well, so the way it's done is a matter of taste.

    But this is just my humble opinion. And as I said before it's not my taste either. Which is the reason for my variations.

    For example I have discarded the "success levels" and instead reworked them as "success values" where each level provides a number of points usable for acomplishing a combat maneouver with like results. You could even distrubute the points among your group members if the group leader makes a successful TN 10 Tactics roll. This allows for real epic combat situations and group-tactics.
    Best regards,

    Storm of the million spheres

  3. #3
    I agree with you on some points, but on other points i do want to make some statements...

    Bilbo manages to fight off the swarm of giant spiders in the hobbit. Now you can credit that to his having the one ring...

    However, you can use Sam vs Shelob as a good example. Sam was a non-combative character, but he was able to hold his own against a very powerful monster.

    Are we to credit these characters combat capability to their magic equipment? Or does not their innate bravery and sturdy resolve not have some credit in their survival?

    Meanwhile, I have a fear that if I give our hobbit rogue a magic dagger, he's still in a world of trouble against most foes.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    central Rhine area / Germany
    I see your point. It's difficult to find a clear answer as it seems. I have spend the last couple of days finding definitive evidence for one side or the other - but there is none. Tolkien changes the way he deems fighting would be for dramas' sake again and again.
    So in the end it's really a matter of once personal tastes.
    The approach I take is mostly "close to Tolkiens technique". That means in most cases I prefer the rather heroic approach were the mains of the story show off quite well - not considering if they are warriors or not. They will, when hit, slowly deplete their hit points, getting more and more worn over time.
    Then in the dramatic appropriate situations I'll use a more "realistic" approach were the warriors will be the true shining professionals while the rest has to watch their step! This seems to be in line with the Boromir scene at the waterfalls.'s a matter of taste.
    As for me the DEC LotR combat rules almost work very well most of the time.
    Best regards,

    Storm of the million spheres

  5. #5
    The Heren Turambarion's Compendium (found in the Supplement Books section of the archive in my sig) has compiled a document full of rules changes. They've addressed almost every aspect of the game, so check it out and see what you'd use. The Hall of Fire webzine also addresses combat in some of the back issues, so take a look there as well. I'm not sure which issues the discussion is in, so you have to do a little poking around.

  6. #6
    Bilbo and Sam both had Sting when they faced their battle, which gives them a bit of an edge. Also, the use of Courage at just the right time can totally change the outcome of a given fight.

  7. #7
    The number of Advancements Sam racked up by the time he met Shelob probably gave him an awesome Defense.
    Portfolio | Blog Currently Running: Call of Cthulhu, Star Trek GUMSHOE Currently Playing: DramaSystem, Swords & Wizardry

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    My BSR attempts to fix some of the glaring issues with the combat system along with providing alternate rules to use, including additional effects from extraordinary attacks making the combat more heroic and more deadly.
    Former Editor, The Hall of Fire, Beyond the Final Frontier

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