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Help with Warstrider encounter

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  • Help with Warstrider encounter

    During a recent misadventure, my party (three Solars) ran head-first into a pair of warstriders they didn't know were operational--Godspeed Vanguard piloted by a Water Aspect Water Dragon stylist, and All-Conquering Colossus piloted by a Fire Aspect melee/presence type. But the battle started turning into a slog as it dragged on and everyone started running out of motes. I got out of it by having a third Dragonblooded come out and talk the party into suspending the duel for the sake of innocent bystanders. It'll resume in two days in the jungle, with each side starting on one end of a big pre-defined oval.

    I used the intervening time to throw some new dangers and factions into the mix, hoping to divert the plot so I didn't have to basically re-run the same grinding encounter, but... Players being players, they're still planning on fighting the duel before focusing on the Infernal sorceress who just popped up threatening to burn everything.

    Now, both warstriders are have lost a few health levels, and the party assassinated most of the support staff so they're not likely to be in full working order when the time comes. They also think there are only two Solars, as the third member missed some of the fight and spent the rest in disguise. What kinds of strategies might they use, assuming they're unwilling to break the rules of engagement first? Are there things I can do as GM to--at the very least--speed things up?

    Tl;dr: My Solars are fighting Warstriders in the jungle, how do I keep it fresh?

  • #2
    Warstriders add much more to survivability than they do to offense - two combatants who fight each other will have their duel go on for much longer than it normally would if they're wearing warstriders, before counting any evocations added into the mix.

    If your players are dedicated to fighting those machines and hacking through all those health levels, and you want to speed things up, your main two options are 1) Make the situation dangerous enough that going through all those health levels is a bad idea, or 2) Making the fight easier to end more quickly.

    #1 can be accomplished by added more troops, enemy combatants, etc. The warstriders may be the big focus, but spend too much time and essence chewing through those health boxes, and you leave yourself open to other combatants. Positioned right, this can encourage the players to approach the combat more tactically - force them to use gambits to peel open the layer protecting the pilot, lure the striders into hazardous terrain like swamps or dangerous cliffs, etc.

    #2 can be accomplished by fudging how much downtime damage they take without anyone to provide maintenance.


    As for warstrider tactics - general Realm doctrine says that you do not throw machines like that directly at the anathema without support. They're not designed to win duels with the monters, they're designed to make it much easier to smash through softer targets. You send the wyld hunt shikari to deal with the anathema - the warstrider is for attacking troops. The stats of a warstrider bear that out - compared to an artifact weapon and suit of armour, they give you a small-but-nice boost to damage at a large to-hit penalty against person-sized targets, while giving a big boost to soak and health boxes. Against mass combat units, though, they ignore the to-hit penalty and give you an extra attack each round.

    So, if I'm a rational, tactically-focused, dispassionate legionnaire (none of which are a given for any particular dragon-blood), I'm not swinging warstriders at the anathema like a hammer. I'm going for their soft targets, and daring them to stop me. Or using the warstriders to back up more conventional fighters. And if I must fight them directly, I want to try to use my warstrider's advantages (and my innate anima advantages) any way I can - fight in a burning forest where my anima protects me from damage, drag them underwater where I can breath, or fight them on open ground where my strider's movement bonus makes it easier to control the time and place of the conflict.

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    • #3
      Just tell the players you don't want to run the fight.

      Either bear it out narratively, let the players just stunt their actions and resolve without rolling... or just say you're not doing it.

      You can skip it entirely (fade to black) or agree with your players that they'll deal with the Infernal first and come up with a plot reason why the deebs don't fight. Maybe a social scene where they forge an alliance.

      Otherwise, I agree with Skeptic Tank -- that's good advice there.

      One thing you could do is run the fight until you get bored, then have the Infernal attack the duel?

      Other houserules that might make things quicker could be:

      1. Don't roll Withering damage. Subtract soak, whatever number is left isn't rolled as dice but just subtracts from enemy Initiative. Dice tricks are worth (roughly) +1 damage.

      2. Add the Round Number to the damage of Decisive attacks, so the longer the fight goes on, the more deadly attacks become.
      Last edited by JohnDoe244; 12-26-2020, 04:42 AM.


      Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.

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      • #4
        Hmm, mote-draining slog-fests are the stuff of 2e, and I don't miss them.

        I'm assuming the outcome you're aiming for is for the players to win, but for it to feel earned. Why not reward their previous success in the first fight by describing some of the damage on each warstrider (plate missing on the left knee, hairline crack running the length of the visor, etc), and allow them to exploit that in combat.

        This could just be stunt fodder, or you could lower the difficulty of one of the warstrider-fighting gambits (Arms p143) relevant to each problem. You could also introduce new ones relevant to the capabilities of the warstriders in question, if you decide any of their unique systems have been damaged.

        Another thing to consider is, if it starts to look hopeless and the outcome is certain, even though there's still a few rounds to go to confirm it ... the dragonbloods might surrender. If the warstrider is halfway to inoperable or if the cockpit has been breached and they are taking direct attacks from enemy Solars while being low on motes, self-preservation might kick in. Then you have dragonblooded prisoners and slightly more operational warstriders for the party to figure out what to do with.


        "Measure of Hope is right about everything." - Wise Old Guru

        Currently running an Exalted 2.5 Abyssals game in a homebrew modern shard because I value neither my time or my sanity, and I'm loving almost every minute of it.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
          You can skip it entirely (fade to black)
          After reading your Dynasty of Dovak campaign notes, this gives me some rather unlikely ideas about how the fight plays out...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by habitableexoplanet View Post

            After reading your Dynasty of Dovak campaign notes, this gives me some rather unlikely ideas about how the fight plays out...
            Glad that's not just me...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by habitableexoplanet View Post

              After reading your Dynasty of Dovak campaign notes, this gives me some rather unlikely ideas about how the fight plays out...
              You square off against the mighty thirty foot warmachines and draw your weapons.

              "Let's do this!"

              You blur forward in a rush of motion as the warstriders shake the ground with their charge!

              Fade to Black

              One hour later, you sit on the ruined carapace of the warstrider. Your diaklave is burried to the hilt in the once-mighy, now-spent warmachine. Your shirt is off and your sweaty body glistens in the sunlight. The rest of your circle pants as they try to catch their breath. Every muscle aches as you throb with...

              Okay, yeah, I see it now. :P
              Last edited by JohnDoe244; 12-26-2020, 12:45 PM.


              Hi, I'm JohnDoe244. My posts represent my opinions, not facts.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Measure of Hope View Post
                I'm assuming the outcome you're aiming for is for the players to win, but for it to feel earned
                Indeed

                Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post
                Just tell the players you don't want to run the fight.
                That's... actually not a bad idea.

                Originally posted by Skeptic Tank View Post
                As for warstrider tactics - general Realm doctrine says that you do not throw machines like that directly at the anathema without support. They're not designed to win duels with the monters, they're designed to make it much easier to smash through softer targets. You send the wyld hunt shikari to deal with the anathema - the warstrider is for attacking troops.
                And that's a good point.

                Hmm... I established that the governor (who proposed moving the duel) was honest in her intentions, but in a letter-of-the-law type of way, and she's certainly not the only authority in the area--there's an ambitious legion commander too... I'm seeing a Trojan Horse sort of trap now. The two Warstrider pilots are waiting in a clearing, with their mechs waiting behind them, both looking like they're in pretty bad shape and half-stuck in difficult terrain. If questioned, they claim that they're too badly damaged to fight, so they're going to duel hand-to-hand. But when the fight starts, both Warstriders fall apart, revealing themselves to be wood-and-metal mockups hiding more than twenty extra Dragonblooded from the legion. Two strong DBs (maybe 3, if the legion commander is there) and a Might 3 battle group should be a more exciting fight...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Grod_the_giant View Post
                  Hmm... I established that the governor (who proposed moving the duel) was honest in her intentions, but in a letter-of-the-law type of way, and she's certainly not the only authority in the area--there's an ambitious legion commander too... I'm seeing a Trojan Horse sort of trap now. The two Warstrider pilots are waiting in a clearing, with their mechs waiting behind them, both looking like they're in pretty bad shape and half-stuck in difficult terrain. If questioned, they claim that they're too badly damaged to fight, so they're going to duel hand-to-hand. But when the fight starts, both Warstriders fall apart, revealing themselves to be wood-and-metal mockups hiding more than twenty extra Dragonblooded from the legion. Two strong DBs (maybe 3, if the legion commander is there) and a Might 3 battle group should be a more exciting fight...
                  The "trojan striders" sound like a good twist to pull on the Circle for a little surprise and no matter the results will make those DBs that much more memorable. It also leaves open the possiblity of making the actual fate of those warstriders and its pilots - that may or not survive the fight against the Solars without them - into a macguffin of sorts at later time.

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