The Evil DM

The Evil DM
The Evil DM

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Adding Role Playing to Melee

Consider the following scenario where the party opens the door into a room full of armed men performing some sort of initiation. The paragraphs following provide two different approaches to the melee.

Standard Melee

Fighter number three swings at the character with his sword.

Role Playing Melee

Mathcoel steps forward his iridescent blue eyes focused on the infidel that dared to defile the sacred initiation rite. As he swings his sword he screams, “Your ears will make my collection twenty-five!”

Lunsle, the fighter next to Mathcoel, grunts, “Mat, you can’t count number twelve because he died from being on fire.”

Mathcoel makes another swing and says, “Tell the dead I can’t count them.”

Combat is Personal

In a swords and sorcery game combat is personal. The combatants are usually only a few feet apart at most. You can see the eyes of your opponent. You can smell the perspiration in the air. A swing blunted by shield or armor produces the ringing sound of metal on metal. A blade cutting through flesh produces a muffled sound often followed by the groans from the victim.

A game master should name each and every intelligent opponent. The non-player characters should talk between themselves.

Mathcoel says, “Fighting is thirty work. I am going to enjoy drinking wine out of the cup made from this one’s head.”

Lunsle says, “That won’t make much of a cup after I split that skull with my axe.”

Melee Provides Opportunities to Advance the Plot

Chatter between the combatants provides the opportunity to introduce new non-player characters, weapons, equipment, and monsters.

Bompide shouts, “Ethy break off. Run back and tell the Croaker we need his help some of us are hurt. Tell Girey to bring the Optile.”

Ethy backs out of combat, gulps and asks, “The Optile?”

Bompide says, “Yes, the Optile. I think we need it to finish off these defilers.”

The party know if Ethy gets away in a few rounds something nasty is going to come to the aid of the non-player characters. Chatter provides opportunity to slip in clues to major plot points. For example, introducing the party to behind-the-scenes character they have not yet heard of.

Lunsle says, “I am going to gouge the eyes out of this one then skull-fuck him as an offering to the Blind Seer.”

Standard Melee is Boring

With a complex gaming system like D&D 4E combat takes a long time. The adventure should keep all the player alert and involved.

Bompide says, “Lunsle use your bow and put an arrow through both eyes of the big one in the back, he is casting spells.”

In almost every case, the non-player characters know the location better than the player characters. Use that knowledge.

Bompide says, “Ethy tell Girey they came in the back door of the initiation room. Send a squad to come in from behind. Make sure Girey takes out their healers and spell casters first.”

Let the Party Know the Score

Most of the time the party should win. Otherwise no one will want to play the game. Most of the time there is a point where it is obvious who will win of the melee.

Mathcoel clutches at the wound in his side and says, “Lunsle, tell Maura and Vara I loved them.”

Lunsle says, “The next time I fuck them I will tell them you were thinking of them when you died.”

Mathcoel gurgles blood and as he dies says, “Lunsle you’re a bastard!”

As Lunsle crumples to the floor he replies, “That is what my father always said.”