Monday, July 13, 2009

Four Fighting Men For You to Smack Around

Several of the comments I received on my column about possible monsters to include in the T&B "bad guys book" made mention of including lots of different kinds of human opponents; not NPCs, per se, but human "monsters" in the same vein as how the old D&D Monster Manual included various "Humans" entries like brigands, berzerkers, pirates, and the like.

You can see the column in question here.

I thought this was a great idea, and I've written up a number of human opponent entries. Because T&B is a relatively abstract system, and because monster statlines aren't all that detail heavy, one of the things I did to keep things interesting was to give each human opponent type a special rule or two, typically involving application of combat maneuvers. If the GM decides they don't want to use combat maneuvers, that's fine, but it might make the individual human entries a little less differentiated; if that's ok, then so be it.

So here I present for you the Duelist, the Legionnaire, the Marauder, and the Swashbuckler.


Duelist

Attack: +4M
Defense: +4
Reflexes: +4

Athletics: +4
Detection: +2
Stealth: +0

Avoid: +4
Endure: +2
Resist: +0

Health: 12
Armor: By Type
Damage: By Weapon

Appearance:

Although their looks can vary wildly, all duelists have one thing in common - the look of the professional killer. Some are flamboyant and fancy themselves as some kind of celebrity, while others consider themselves to be more of an assassin and dress in a dark, menacing fashion in order to intimidate their opponent. Either way, Duelists put as much thought into their appearance as they do into their choice of weapon.

Behavior:

A Duelist is a professional warrior who specializes in formalized single combats. Some make a living by challenging wealthy individuals and then claiming their possessions as spoils of a successful duel (to the death or otherwise). Others make their money off of representing others in bouts, standing in as paid champions for those who have more coin in their purses than skill in their sword-arms. Whatever their reasons for fighting, all Duelists are experts at defeating others in a formal contest of arms, either to the dead or some other condition (often first blood drawn).

Because of their specialized ability, most Duelists shy away from impromptu fighting. If one finds themselves in the midst of a barroom brawl, most Duelists will just duck and cover and get out of the way. While not cowards, they see little profit in random violence, preferring to save their skills (and their luck) for when it really matters.

Combat:

The arms and armor of a Duelist depend entirely upon their culture and the kinds of dueling they specialize in. Some are nimble knife-fighters, who eschew armor and heavier weapons for a simple light blade. Others are experts in armored single combats, including bouts with poll-axes in heavy plate armor. Whatever the typical armor and weapons might be, it can be assured that the duelist has the best that their money can buy, and knows how to use them.

Because of their extensive training in single combats, any time a Duelist fights against a single opponent in a situation where they can entirely focus on that one combatant (so not in a general melee, even if they are fighting one-on-one), even if it is not a formalized "duel", the Duelist receives a +1 bonus to their Attack, Defense, and Reflexes skills to represent their specialized combat training.


Legionnaire

Attack: +3M/+2R
Defense: +3 (+4 w/ Shield)
Reflexes: +3

Athletics: +4
Detection: +2
Stealth: +0

Avoid: +0
Endure: +4
Resist: +2

Health: 12
Armor: 4
Damage: +0M/+1R

Appearance:

Legionnaires aren't typically overly large or overly short - they are actually picked for sizes that don't create a discrepancy in the battle lines. Legionnaires are however extraordinarily tough, with great strength and greater endurance. Legionnaires are dressed in long red tunics and calf-high sandals, with bronze and iron helmets and body armor made from either mail or thin iron laminate, and armed with short sword, heavy javelin, and large shield.

Behavior:

Professional soldiers that serve in campaigns for months if not years at a time, and march everywhere, in all seasons and weather, carrying their own kit as well as camp supplies, Legionnaires march to war or stand ready to defend along every border of the Empire. They are a coarse, violent breed, but they are not stupid and they are extremely well disciplined. Legionnaires view themselves as soldiers, each of whom is one small, but important, part of the much larger Empire war machine. They are also career soldiers, fighting for 20 years and then given lands and gold upon their retirement. This means most Legionnaires are stony veterans of numerous battles and many hard-fought campaigns, and they are deadly dangerous opponents.

Combat:

Generally, Legionnaires advance in formation slowly and implacably. When within range, the unit hurls its heavy javelins into the enemy ranks, sowing injury and confusion just before the unit breaks into a tightly-formed battering ram of men and shields, slamming into the disorganized foe and breaking them against the front rank's sturdy shield wall and on the point of their skillfully-wielded short stabbing swords (can be considered a Charge Attack, at the GM's discretion). Armies many times larger than that of the Legions have been struck down and ground into the earth by the hobnailed sandals of the Empire's Legionnaires.

Having fought for years in tightly-formed battle lines, Legionnaires are trained to fight together and support each other in battle, each part of a larger unit. Any time at least two Legionnaires are within melee distance of a foe, their coordinated actions grant each of them a +1 bonus to all combat rolls (Attack, Defense, and Reflexes) against that foe.


Marauder

Attack: +4M/+2R
Defense: +2 (+3 w/ Shield)
Reflexes: +2

Athletics: +4
Detection: +0
Stealth: +0

Avoid: +2
Endure: +4
Resist: +0

Health: 12
Armor: 2
Damage: By Weapon

Appearance:

Typically boisterous, fearsome warriors who rely on their bluster and wild charges more than their weapons and armor, most Marauders are only lightly armored with leather jerkins or studded vests, and typically wearing some manner of helm. Most carry shields, and carry a variety of weapons; swords, spears, axes, maces, bows, clubs, and daggers.

Behavior:

Marauders come from a number of human cultures that rely on raiding warfare to acquire slaves, wealth, and other goods to improve their lot in life. For some of these cultures, the raiding is only seasonal or when times are tough. For others, preying on the wealth of neighboring peoples is their primary occupation. Either way, Marauders rely on "shock and awe" to shatter their enemies resistance, kill or incapacitate any defenders, and leave goods, animals, and slaves for the gathering.

This raiding and pillaging lifestyle means Marauders typically only attack from a position of strength. While they do not lack for courage, coming as they do from strong warrior cultures, most Marauders know that "even a cornered calf can kick". Because of this, Marauder cultures will sometimes engage in trade with a strong neighbor, but attack a weak one. When attacked themselves, however, they are more than fearsome opponents.

Combat:

Marauders are warriors and prize personal bravery and skill above all else. Although they strike in numbers and with some rudimentary coordination, typically a Marauder attack involves each attacker trying to out-do their comrades in order to gain a larger share of the raid's "tall tales" as well as the best pickings of the plunder. Often, they will seek out the best of the defenders and challenge them personally, hoping to defeat them and plunder the body for weapons, armor, and jewelry.

Because of their very aggressive tactics, Marauders are particularly adept at using the Charge Attack and Desperate Blow combat maneuvers. Any time a Marauder uses a Charge Attack, add +2 to the result, and they are allowed to exchange all their Defense skill when using Desperate Blow, rather than half.


Swashbuckler

Attack: +3M
Defense: +4
Reflexes: +5

Athletics: +5
Detection: +2
Stealth: +0

Avoid: +5
Endure: +2
Resist: +0

Health: 12
Armor: By Type
Damage: By Weapon

Appearance:

Skillful warriors who rely on their agility, reflexes, and athleticism in order to defeat their foes. Most Swashbucklers wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that are still designed well enough to ensure that they won't catch on anything during complicated combat maneuvers. Most Swashbucklers are cocky and flamboyant, preferring a lot of fashionable clothes and an emphasis on style (which can be used as grounds for enciting a duel). Most Swashbucklers wear no armor (or at best, light armor), and favor light weapons that favor their quick, flourishing style (although the occasional pistol tucked into a belt is not unheard of...).

Behavior:

Known for their refined swordplay, especially the art of defense, and for their spring-trap reflexes and great acrobatic prowess, Swashbucklers are usually young aristocrats or wealthy commoners who spend their time hanging out with each other, instigating and fighting duels, gambling, wenching and carousing, and in general just getting into trouble. Most will gladly start a fight, but don't in general expect a fight to the death (unless it is a matter of honor, at which point all bets are off).

Most Swashbucklers have keen wits to go with their keen blades, and equally touchy senses of honor. They'll use their own fashion, the fashions of others, politics, love, honor, and anything else they can think of in order to provoke a duel, in order to impress their friends and gain further favor amongst the social hierarchy they live (and die) within.

Combat:

Swashbucklers rely on their Reflex, Defense, and Athletics skills more than anything else, wearing down their opponents by being struck less often than they themselves are struck. This is typically done by getting in the first blow, using the Holding at Bay combat maneuver when they lose initiative, and employing the environment in order to gain advantage, often luring opponents to follow them onto precarious ground. In combat, the Swashbuckler gains a +1 bonus to Athletics rolls, and when using the Holding at Bay combat maneuver, the Swashbuckler can apply their full Attack bonus to improve their Defense, not just half the skill.


One thing that I'm trying to do (and I have no idea if I am successful or not), is to separate out the origins of the type from its application. In other words, while the Legionnaire is based closely on a Roman legionnaire, I don't want it to be a carbon copy of that historic soldier, and while the Marauder is somewhat viking-esque, they aren't "Vikings". You could lift these opponent types out of their default applications, give them vibro-blades and powered armors, or machine guns, or flintlocks, and they would still be more or less applicable as written.

There are a good number of other human opponent types written up as of right now; Assassin, Brigand, Knight, Pirate, Spear Levy, and Weapon Master are completed, and I'll probably write up a handful of others before I'm done. I currently have around 30 creature entries finished, and I hope to get about twice that number before I consider the "monster book" to be ready enough to be usable to a generic gaming audience.

4 comments:

Timeshadows said...

Nice. A lot of data per entry, but nice nonetheless. :)

Badelaire said...

Yeah, in theory I could have probably boiled it down to a handful of bullet points after the statline, but I tend to be kinda chatty about my monsters.

The one thing I did want to make sure of is that, from a GM's perspective, any relevant data needed for combat would be very quick to jot down and keep track of, which is why a monster entry has only 12 values plus any added special rules (of which I try to keep to a minimum if possible).

Matthew James Stanham said...

Looks good to me; I will just mention that the convention is to refer to Roman Legionaries and not to Roman Legionnaires (you will get eaten alive some places for conflating the nomenclature used for the Roman Legion with the Foreign Legion). You probably do not care, but just in case...

Badelaire said...

Matthew, on the contrary, thank you for noticing that - I'll be sure to correct it in the document since the reference is in fact to Romans and not the Foreign Legion.

Comments most appreciated!