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 Post subject: Surprise!
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:11 pm 
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Perhaps it is because I'm coming from a D&D background, but I'm struggling to accept the Core rules for Surprise.

In our D&D games characters were frequently surprised, and this wasn't generally a big deal: one additional attack was not about to kill a character, particularly nowadays. In TRoS, of course, undefended attacks are a whole lot more lethal.

Quote:
Core Rules, p75

Surprise is a common event—even when one is aware of an enemy. Sometimes a character is unprepared for an incoming attack—perhaps they are surprised or hesitated...To check for surprise or in a similar situation the unsuspecting character rolls Reflex against a TN based on how alert the character was....Failure indicates that no action can be taken until next round. Success—even one—means that you may defend (or attempt to buy initiative).


The particularly worrying aspect of this is that the TN for "unsuspecting or inattentive" in Table 4.1 is a 10! A character with a Reflex of 4-7 has only a 34-52% chance of success, and failure means not being able to defend oneself for two whole exchanges!

Lethal combat I can handle, but this seems like a "bang, your dead, didn't see that one coming did you?" scenario. Is Luck the only way a character can survive a poor Reflex roll when surprised? Or am I missing something?

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 Post subject: Re: Surprise!
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:05 pm 
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I have never had problems with this. In my book, “Blindsided” (TN 13) meant that the character was either completely unaware of the opponent’s presence or that he was aware of his presence but didn’t dream of being atacked by this person; “Unsuspecting or Inattentive” (TN 10) meant that the character saw the attack right from the commencement of the attacking movement but was either not concentrating upon the adversary or else didn’t dream of being attacked by this person.

Think a moment about what the latter case means. If the attack is an armed one (and only an armed one is dangerous enough to warrant your worries) it means that the adversary was standing weapon in hand within lunging distance of the character. In the overwhemling majority of the cases where the character is atacked out of such a situation, the opponent will be somebody whom the character has reason to distrust. In that case, the character will likely be having a wary eye on he armed guy anyhow, and thus will neither be unsuspecting nor inattentive but “Aware of Opponent” (as a potential opponent, that is), which means TN 7. If, however, the player doesn’t bother to tell the referee that he is watching the armed guy closely, I think he had it coming and deserves TN 10.

As this sword cuts both ways, it also promotes good tactics and cleverness on the part of the players. If they can, weapon inhand, get close to somebody, and if they can distract him for only half a second by some clever ploy, they can force him to roll against TN 10 to be able to defend! Neat, ain’t it?

But don’t forget to impress the importance of being attentive and communicating this attention upon your players. If Pete Blueyes does rather concentrate upon he low neckline of Sally McBuxom while Slim “Backstab” Shady is loitering cleaver in hand next to him, that's a very well-deserved funeral.

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 Post subject: Re: Surprise!
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:02 pm 
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Cogs42 wrote:
The particularly worrying aspect of this is that the TN for "unsuspecting or inattentive" in Table 4.1 is a 10! A character with a Reflex of 4-7 has only a 34-52% chance of success, and failure means not being able to defend oneself for two whole exchanges!


I agree with everything Grettir said. Play, in TRoS, is very different to traditional RPGs. In TRoS, the player is far more responsible for the survival of the character than the character. By this I mean that the player's decisions in the game are more important than what's on the character sheet in terms of determining the survivability of the character.

TRoS has a metagame resource called Luck which the player can take as one of their SAs. If the player has the Luck SA, and it isn't 0, then they can always spend a point of luck to make one of their dice a Success regardless of the actual roll or the TN of the roll. So in the end it is up to the player to manage this resource and use it wisely.

NPCs, of course, don't have access to Luck. So this particular rule really does favour the players. It should bring a smile to their face. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Surprise!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:26 am 
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Thanks to you both!

I had one of those "a-ha" moments while reading Grettir's response - that the reason why characters were "surprised" so frequently in our D&D games was because it didn't matter - only rarely did a surprise attack ever have any influence at all on the outcome of a battle. So nobody really cared. In fact, that sort of banality was one reason why I have strayed from the game...

I guess it is going to take a little time to get used to this!

It makes perfect sense that a real surprise attack with a weapon is potentially lethal - and it is exactly this that encourages a very different style of gameplay. I like that.

Grettir wrote:
If Pete Blueyes does rather concentrate upon he low neckline of Sally McBuxom while Slim “Backstab” Shady is loitering cleaver in hand next to him, that's a very well-deserved funeral.


:lol: I repeat, a very different style of gameplay.....

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 Post subject: Re: Surprise!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:32 pm 
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Cogs42 wrote:
the reason why characters were "surprised" so frequently in our D&D games was because it didn't matter - only rarely did a surprise attack ever have any influence at all on the outcome of a battle
That's the gist of it.

In D&D, characters in general cannot be felled with a single bow and surprise is only a mild annoyance. In TROS, one blow will generally do you in, and if you don't see that coming... you're double screwed. :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Surprise!
PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:57 pm 
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Ian.Plumb wrote:
In TRoS, the player is far more responsible for the survival of the character than the character. By this I mean that the player's decisions in the game are more important than what's on the character sheet in terms of determining the survivability of the character.

That’s actually an excellent point.

Cogs42, you really have to realize and to impress upon your players that TRoS is very much about player skill. We are not talking about mastering arcane concepts or difficult mechanics, but merely about using common sense. Avoid being hit (if your players think that being hit is no big thing, ask them to try to catch a swung axe with their torso – or better not to), don’t turn your back upon potential danger, don’t let an armed and potentially hostile person get within easy striking distance of yourself, don’t go into combat unarmoured or poorly armed, avoid fighting at a disadvantage, try to create combat circumstances that favour you, and so on. If the players use good common sense and take care, TRoS offers a lot of mechanical safeguards against accidental death due to poor rolls; if, on the other hand, the players don’t bother to think, even high Attributes and CPs won’t safe them from character death.

You can’t “auto-pilot” TRoS in the way you can D&D. If you only take part in what’s going on to roll for your attack, you will get your character killed for certain. And if your players don’t consider the need to actually participate as positive, show them how they can use good tactics to totally boost their character’s efficiency – as for instance in distracting their opponent for just a split second to attack him from surprise. :twisted:

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