Alas, Poor Cerberus…


Scaling battles is one of the most difficult parts of GMing World of Darkness. At least, it is for me. In a “leveled” game system you can gauge the challenge by the level of the characters in the group and the number of characters in the group. In “World of Darkness” I have no such luck. Yes, I can (and do) take into account the number of experience points I have handed out up until the session with the fight, but those XPs don’t always get spent on things that will help the characters in combat. This is only compounded by the way that dice pools work in WoD. I have way too many times seen someone with a 10+ dice pool roll zero successes, or even a botch. Now, technically you can only roll a “botch” (aka: dramatic failure) with a chance die, but I have always felt (and my players tend to agree) that botches are part of the fun as long as the GM doesn’t go overboard with them.

On the other hand, I have seen the exact opposite on at least as many occasions. I can’t count for you the number of times I have seen someone have 2 dice and get three or more successes due to roll-ups.  It becomes difficult as a GM to have any feel for how a combat will go. This only becomes more difficult to estimate when you’re dealing with a mixed group of Werewolves, which are built for combat, and Mages, which are built to make me weep. I thought that a Mythical Beast with multiple heads that was so large it caused earthquakes by walking around would be a bit of a challenge. (Note: the Mages had jumped through a portal and were not in Kansas anymore at the time.)  Instead I wound up with monstrosities with 16+ Dice Pools, Supernal Luck (8 again), and Force fields protecting them as they ripped poor Cerberus to shreds in the first round of combat.

Lessons Learned:

1) In the World of Darkness it is always, always, always preferable to have your players squaring off against a group of baddies rather than one Big Bad. Yes, Cerberus (if that’s what the creature truly was) made an impressive entrance. The problem is that when you are facing off against multiple attacks per round your defense decreases by one for each attacker. When you have some purple-haired person who shall remain nameless casting Acceleration on her combat-monster buddies so that they can kill things at ludicrous speed your Big Bad will be a Big Bloodsplat before everyone even has a chance to get a shot in. On the other hand… fill a house with acid-vomiting zombies and the players will start hosing each other down with cleansing fire in an attempt to escape the building.

2) Pit the Player Characters against each other. This is a tried and true method for making your life as a GM much more fun and easy! Not only are you dealing with less attackers on each side because you have split the group, if they kill each other’s characters they’ll whine at each other and not you! You just get to sit back, relax, and gloat.

3) When your friends ask you if you’ll run Mage… YOU SAY NO!

Mages Make Me Cry

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Posted on April 27, 2012, in Campaign Summary, Gaming, Mage Awakening, MtAw, RPG, Werewolf Forsaken, WoD, World of Darkness, WtF and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. It’s not just WoD where the BBEG needs to roll deep. Palladium BBEGs need posses too, lest they die without harming the PCs. Poor Pestilence died in two melees, with a posse.

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