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  • Trivial Opponents, What’s the Deal?

    So prompted by Shimmering Heat Mirage Tactic, I went and looked up trivial opponents in the book again. It mentions non-combatants and trivial opponents in the same breath, as mostly background characters for stunt fodder. However it also mentions as an example a mortal character on a battlefield with celestial exalts and fair folk nobles is considered to be a trivial opponent, and treated as a battle group size zero.

    So, is this how like, a dragonblooded Dynast and her handful of bodyguards are meant to be represented? Like say you’ve got a DB, her blood ape, and three bodyguards as a battle scene. Normally I’d run that with all of them as individuals, the DB, demon, and each bodyguard as their own initiative. In this case should I instead be treating them as trivial opponents? They don’t take decisive damage to defeat, but neither can you farm initiative off them. Somehow that FEELS better to me. You can’t just slam dunk the mortal bodyguard and then explode that 45 initiative all over the boss, but likewise you don’t need to risk resetting to base initiative to get rid of the annoying but not overly dangerous bodyguards.

  • #2
    So, I think the answer is "it depends". And that's the problem with answering this question: the Devs can't cover every situation and sometimes you just have to guess it. Although I would like a bit more information on Trivial Opponents in the Storyteller's Guide if anyone who is involved in that is reading this.

    So, in the example above, I would either make the bodyguards a BG with size 1 or Trivial opponents. It depends on a couple of factors:
    • Do I think they'll be interesting enough? If my group has three combat-ready Solars in it, that BG is going to last roughly three seconds, until the Dawn looks in their direction and they break.
    • Do I think they'll mess with the initiative system? Tied to the above. If a BG is only giving Initiative to the characters (through Crash Bonus), not draining it, that can lead to problems. Obviously not all fights are equal and sometimes a BG has a bad day, but in general, adding a BG should not make the fight significantly easier for the opponent.
    • Would it be weird if this group or these characters aren't part of the combat? This is where Exalted and Demons and such live. Usually a group of demons is still going to be BG, unless they aren't going to be participating in combat at all.

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    • #3
      It really depends on the scene in question. Trivial appointments are essentially meant to be those extras in a fight scene for a film that the protagonists just drop on their way to the actual opponents.

      So think about it like this. If the body guards are there essentially because sending a noble out across the wilderness without guards to protect them from bandits and such, but its clear that they're there for propriety than defense, then the guards are probably trivial opponents. The family didn't waste the best of the mortal security on protecting the person who the family is confident will walk away from a bandit raid having been given all the jerky the bandits posses as an apology for the inconvenience. If the noble is just a bureaucrat/ negotiator from the Spiral Academy then they probably went with strong guards meant to be able to oppose most threats they come across.

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      • #4
        Trivial opponents aren't mean to be the extras in a fight scene that the protagonists just drop on their way to the actual opponents unless you're mimicking the sort of (usually comedy or just badly paced) movie where there's gratuitous mook combat without any tension at all; most mook combat contributes at least some tension. A Dynast with a summoned blood ape and a group of three bodyguards is the Dynast, the blood ape, and a Size 1 battlegroup -- which is actually kinda dangerous if you let the Dynast take command actions. That line about a mortal combatant in a battlefield otherwise completely filled with supernatural combatants is meant to illustrate a possible extreme edge case; it's not normative.

        Shimmering Heat Mirage not keying off attacks from trivial opponents means it doesn't go down if e.g. a five year old throws a spoon at you. That sort of rider goes into the mechanical language of charms like that in order to forestall all the bullshit problems D&D3e had with, like, bags of rats letting you trigger Great Cleave arbitrarily large numbers of times.

        (For those unaware, D&D3e had a feat called Whirlwind Attack that lets you attack everything in the nine squares directly around you, and another feat called Great Cleave that lets you do a second attack on an adjacent opponent of your choice if you kill something. But since 3e doesn't differentiate between something like trivial opponents and something like real opponents, there's nothing stopping you from scattering a bag full of a hundred rats directly around yourself while in combat with a serious opponent, whirlwind attacking all the rats, and then using Great Cleave on your main opponent triggered off every time you kill a rat. Ex3 has trivial opponents as a mechanical category so STs have a rules basis for "That's dumb and doesn't work.")
        Last edited by Stephen Lea Sheppard; 12-20-2018, 02:45 PM.

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        • #5
          Ah, see, that’s the thing though, I’ve run I think three campaigns, played in at least two, and not once in any of them were trivial opponents used. I think if you’ve got an opponent who’s technically trivial, but not entirely harmless. Like he can still apply an onslaught penalty, he might land a hit against one of the weaker members of the team and strip off some initiative, or even scratch a crashed member, then that could fill a gap that I feel has been missing.

          Having a handful of even weak bodyguards shouldn’t be a gigantic liability, they should at least be kind of helpful. I think I need to start using that when I can run ex3 again. Also it makes that DB charm much more useful.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post
            Trivial opponents aren't mean to be the extras in a fight scene that the protagonists just drop on their way to the actual opponents unless you're mimicking the sort of (usually comedy or just badly paced) movie where there's gratuitous mook combat without any tension at all; most mook combat contributes at least some tension. A Dynast with a summoned blood ape and a group of three bodyguards is the Dynast, the blood ape, and a Size 1 battlegroup -- which is actually kinda dangerous if you let the Dynast take command actions. That line about a mortal combatant in a battlefield otherwise completely filled with supernatural combatants is meant to illustrate a possible extreme edge case; it's not normative.

            Shimmering Heat Mirage not keying off attacks from trivial opponents means it doesn't go down if e.g. a five year old throws a spoon at you. That sort of rider goes into the mechanical language of charms like that in order to forestall all the bullshit problems D&D3e had with, like, bags of rats letting you trigger Great Cleave arbitrarily large numbers of times.

            (For those unaware, D&D3e had a feat called Whirlwind Attack that lets you attack everything in the nine squares directly around you, and another feat called Great Cleave that lets you do a second attack on an adjacent opponent of your choice if you kill something. But since 3e doesn't differentiate between something like trivial opponents and something like real opponents, there's nothing stopping you from scattering a bag full of a hundred rats directly around yourself while in combat with a serious opponent, whirlwind attacking all the rats, and then using Great Cleave on your main opponent triggered off every time you kill a rat. Ex3 has trivial opponents as a mechanical category so STs have a rules basis for "That's dumb and doesn't work.&quot
            Oh really? I wouldn’t have thought to make a three person battlegroup. Interesting.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post

              Oh really? I wouldn’t have thought to make a three person battlegroup. Interesting.
              Very small battlegroups are meant to be the 3e equivalent of what previous editions handled as "Extras."

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              • #8
                Originally posted by DrLoveMonkey View Post
                Ah, see, that’s the thing though, I’ve run I think three campaigns, played in at least two, and not once in any of them were trivial opponents used.
                That's pretty much intended use. Trivial opponents are there for if you absolutely must mechanically define a character who has no chance of contributing meaningfully to a combat, but who is present for the combat anyway. Most of the time, this won't come up, because people like that run away when the fighting starts.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post

                  That's pretty much intended use. Trivial opponents are there for if you absolutely must mechanically define a character who has no chance of contributing meaningfully to a combat, but who is present for the combat anyway. Most of the time, this won't come up, because people like that run away when the fighting starts.
                  Ah, okay, excellent.

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                  • #10
                    A good example of a trivial opponent is the non-Exalted, non-combatant prince who is traveling with his bodyguards and whom you want to kill.

                    You don’t need to kill his bodyguards to kill him, so he’s not an extra whom you can only kill after killing his guards.

                    The prince is a mechanically presented character whom you can target and kill despite the efforts of his guards to stop you, and you can flee the guards once he is dead.

                    So he is a trivial opponent; not any kind of threat, but very much a target.


                    A single mortal bodyguard who gets caught up in a fight between Exalted would be a trivial opponent if he doesn’t flee or find anyone else to form a battle group with him.


                    Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

                    My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

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                    • #11
                      I've noticed them years ago when thinking ways to speed up my game. Insignificant opponents change the dynamic quite radically, making some battles feel like a Devil May Cry action game.

                      Making them size 0 battle groups are one option but makes them pretty lethal in crash, grossly so in my testing. I tried to give the dynamic a huge boost in my monster manual including many more charms to interact with them, but I'd say make their damage in crash half of the successes rolled. Makes it less instagib.
                      Last edited by Sandact6; 12-20-2018, 04:01 PM.


                      Read my shit at my homebrew topic, 2.5e and 3e material!
                      Play Alchemical's in 3e now, you're welcome.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
                        I've noticed them years ago when thinking ways to speed up my game. Insignificant opponents change the dynamic quite radically, making some battles feel like a Devil May Cry action game.

                        Making them size 0 battle groups are one option but makes them pretty lethal in crash, grossly so in my testing. I tried to give the dynamic a huge boost in my monster manual including many more charms to interact with them, but I'd say make their damage in crash half of the successes rolled. Makes it less instagib.
                        How does a battlegroup get Crashed? They have inert initiative. I must have missed something in your description but that's what stood out to me. Unless you mean the hero fighting the BG, in which case how is it different in a size 0 than a size 1-5?


                        I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
                        I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post
                          I've noticed them years ago when thinking ways to speed up my game. Insignificant opponents change the dynamic quite radically, making some battles feel like a Devil May Cry action game.

                          Making them size 0 battle groups are one option but makes them pretty lethal in crash, grossly so in my testing. I tried to give the dynamic a huge boost in my monster manual including many more charms to interact with them, but I'd say make their damage in crash half of the successes rolled. Makes it less instagib.
                          I was considering that as well. They’d give up no more than 6 initiative, one for the successful attack and then a break for eliminating a BG, they wouldn’t drain initiative too hard either.

                          Then again using them as StephanLS suggested has its own dangers. If they go near the end of the initiative track and nobody decides to just put them down, or somehow rolls badly enough not to do it with one attack, then they can potentially be ordered to deliver a devastating AoE attack against all targets in range, crash them, and then since they’re going first again spin up another and deal crippling damage. If I start doing things like that I think I’ll need to start off small with a relatively weak version just so my players get in their head that this isn’t something you can just ignore.

                          THEN hit them with an elite group of bodyguards supplemented with a full war excellency, Blazing Courageous Swordsman Inspiration, and Deadly Wildfire Legion. Which she stunts. And spends a willpower on.

                          Yes...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Unsung Hero View Post

                            How does a battlegroup get Crashed? They have inert initiative. I must have missed something in your description but that's what stood out to me. Unless you mean the hero fighting the BG, in which case how is it different in a size 0 than a size 1-5?
                            Apologies, I was in a rush to post that.

                            When you are crashed battle groups are lethal. If you have multiple insignificant opponents, such as three, being crashed around them is infinitely more worrisome.

                            I can discuss this and my experiences with them in much more detail after I have some more free time today.
                            Last edited by Sandact6; 12-20-2018, 04:38 PM.


                            Read my shit at my homebrew topic, 2.5e and 3e material!
                            Play Alchemical's in 3e now, you're welcome.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sandact6 View Post

                              Apologies, I was in a rush to post that.

                              When you are crashed battle groups are lethal. If you have multiple insignificant opponents, such as three, being crashed around them is infinitely more worrisome.

                              I can discuss this and my experiences with them in much more detail after I have some more free time today.
                              ahh, that makes more sense. I understand now. Additionally, I thought you meant to group all 3 insignificant opponents as a single size 0 battle group which would change how I perceived the threat.


                              I post Artifacts in this thread. How I make them is in this thread.
                              I have made many tools and other things for 3rd Edition. I now host all of my creations on my Google site: The Vault of the Unsung Hero

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