Thursday, August 19, 2010

When You Listen To Fools

The Mob Rules

When faced with opposition outnumbering them at least 5:1, engaged PCs will automatically be hit by at least one of their opponents.

If none of the opponents hit, then the "automatic hit" will be from the least-damaging opponent.

Henchmen/hirelings/retainers do not count for purposes of determining the 5:1 ratio. For example, if 4 PCs are accompanied by 5 men-at-arms, The Mob Rules come into effect when facing a mass of 20 or more opponents.

If the opponents are firing missiles, then all possible targets are considered engaged.

(What do you think?

This would be used in place of the common "Fighters get 1 attack per level against opponents of 1HD/under 1HD, but on the other hand is in the spirit of the Angry Villager rule.

Inspired by those Conan comics where he's attacked by 39248723984 people and they eventually wear him down and capture him. Numbers matter, even if individually the mass of opponents have no hope of hitting their foe.

You thought this was going to be one of those internet drama posts when you saw the title, didn't you?)


  1. I posted a full answer with some math to show that automatically hitting with a natural 20 is enough, but evil openid made my browser crash.
    That together with the elimination of the cleave-like goon multiattack rule makes me think you have a design need for Death Ferox Doom (or something else) and you're trying to solve it this way. I guess there are better ways. :)

  2. Nah, the problem isn't in Death Ferox Doom. I'm thinking more of open battlefields and in-city shenanigans which catch the notice of the city guard.

    Even a mid-level fighter or cleric in full armor basically has nothing to fear if you keep the assumption that the vast, vast majority of soldiers or watchmen are 0 level (which is how I run things).

    ... not to mention if you get a few levels on a party, a couple hundred goblins might just be something to charge at. Which I think is rather ridiculous.

    It's the difference between hero (in the Greek or Norse sense perhaps) and super-hero (in the comic book sense).

    Of course a magic-user has a great deal more options (I wiped out an entire ship with a 9th level caster... Improved Invisibility, a Web and Sleep or two, Cloudkill...), but they're pretty much toast if you get close with such numbers, right?

  3. If there are foes with multiple missile attacks then you also need to consider the chance of friendly fire.

    In our games we use competitive Strength and Dexterity checks to deal with capture and evasion against multiple foes. All housed ruled on the spot according to the situation. We also developed some new subdual rules that can be found in Oubliette Issue 1.

  4. Would it also work when the 5 players attack a level 12 magic user accompanied by his men at arms (all the 10 of them being level 10 fighters)?

  5. Yes for 5 PCs on one 12th level M-U, but not if he's got s squad of 10th level fighters with him.

    When I say "man at arms," I'm talking generic 0 level muscle.

  6. This is a slippery slope. If you don't count henchmen then you can't have meat shields anymore and its not right to build that rule into the system. If you do count henchmen then players will walk around with armies of henchmen tagging along (which is realistic actually). If you try to abstract and say make auto hit a factor of cummulative Hit Dice ratio then even Orcus can be worn down by enough villagers. If you take size or have arbitrary caveats into account then it gets a tad complicated (and may smell of Dragons at Dawn). The way I see it henchmen have got to count.

  7. seems reasonable, i like the idea.

    giving weak, swarming enemies a bit more bite is always a good thing.

  8. I like it, except for not counting henchmen.

  9. After the 1st round of engagement I give folks that outnumber a foe a +1 to hit per attacker.
    I count the men-at-arms and flunkies.

    Auto hit per 5 is cool if you are going for a little quicker resolution, but I'd still count men-at-arms rank combatants.

  10. I would count the men-at-arms as 1/2 a PC.

  11. I agree henchmen should count, especially with the ranged weapon portion of the rule. Counting numbers overall has tge supreme advantage of simplicity, but to be realistic, it should be applied on a pc by pc standing, I.e. aan individual pc engaged by 5 attackers suffers a hit.

    I could imagine a case with a front line of pc fighters and henchmen and a pc magic user in back. If tge opponants have some missile weapons, tge Mage might not really be in any greater danger than normal, but is going to take a hit. That with lower hit points is going to be a bit of a bitch.

    Obviously breaking the count of engaged people up by member of the party is a lot mire complicated and may not be playable, depending on the size of the party.

  12. Yeah, I was thinking their armour class gets one worse for each attacker to attack them per round.
    eg BD&D (If their basic AC is 0)
    AC Attacker
    AC0 First
    AC1 Second
    AC2 Third
    AC3 Fourth

  13. I'm not crazy about removing the dice. It's one thing to arbitrarily make a ruling on something with no rules already established, but to remove a die roll for something already established doesn't sit well with me.

    Consider when you grant automatic success in other situations. It is usually because the player says something so good or bad that you warrant no die roll. The mob rules bypasses that and removes the best way to experience the situation; it detracts rather than enhance. Although it does enhance ease, I suppose.

    I say no: let the DM work it as well and come up with cool descriptions. Even then, let those grant a big bonus but not automatic.

  14. I'm also opposed to the automatic success rule. To me it would make a lot more sense if the group of mooks would give assistance to each other in the form of bonuses to hit. Kind of like in Blood Bowl, where you add +1 to strength for every assist you have. Say you have five mooks ganging up on one high level PC. Alone, the mooks wouldn't stand a chance, but together each one would get four assists, meaning a flat +4 to hit rolls, and maybe damage rolls as well.

  15. I'd say make it 3/1 and count henchmen. Guarding your back is the point of henchmen, says I.

    confirmation word: amisses - what you're racking up from the other 4 goblins.

  16. I think the 3.5 version of this is best of all, truth be told: convert groups into "Mobs", which automatically inflict damage and simply move into areas occupied by PCs. They gain properties of being dispersed with a certain amount of damage, particularly mass effects.

    There damage is based upon average individual constituent, and hit points based upon some aggregation rule - they also have side effects like rendering spell casting difficult, concentrating, movement difficult...

    Mobs were created in the spirit of "swarms" which also work well and add some spice to the game - e.g., bats, rats, fiendish hellspawn wasps

  17. I am content with my natural 20 houserule - that is, a 20 on your attack roll is always a hit, no matter how high your AC is.

    Also, I'd rule that you can use your shield only against one opponent per round, and only against opponents IN FRONT OF YOU. In addition, I would grant a +2 to attack rolls to any one teaming up with his fellow mobster to beat someone or something up, regardless of his position or type of weapon used - a group of archers would gain the bonus, as would a group of torch - and fork - wielding villagers.

    Finally, I find nothing wrong in it having your fighter cleaving through mobs of 0 - level opponents - after all, this might be the very reason why someone plays a character without any spells or other special abilities.

  18. My hypothetical mob would get as creative as I let my PCs be - jumping for legs to topple (knock down, +2/-2 hit differential), getting flank (+2) and rear (+4) attack bonuses, ninja-leaping over shoulders, whipping out ropes, nets, chains (chance to bind), and running at you with a limbo pole (knock down).

    The problem with a hard-and-fast overbearing rule is neatly summed up in this classic Knights of the Dinner Table strip (pdf).

  19. I think henchmen should count, I mean..If I bring an army with me, I should be in good shape because when they ask "you and what army" I can point and say "THAT ONE!"

  20. I like it. I'm with the crowd that think henchmen should count in all situations. I would also house rule that non-Lawful PCs can choose to transmit one of their hits to a henchman, provided the PC could possibly duck behind him, use him as a shield, etc.

  21. Jim: a clarification, brought on by the Orcus comment above...

    Does this rule apply even if the mob does not have weapons required to damage their target? Do monsters normally harmed only by silver or magical weapons still take damage?

  22. I don't think this rule works to model the "captured by the mob" situation - you don't want Conan reduced to negative hp, the adventure is over!

    What I do for my OSRIC game is a simple grappling rule where the attacker rolls to hit AC 5, modified only by the defender's dexterity and (for the front) shield bonuses, plus any displacement effects. If successful they have grabbed the target and get a % chance to pin him/her, base 50% +/- 10% per point of STR difference. Low STR characters are thus easy to pin. Against high STR targets a mob can coordinate, +10% per additional character of similar STR, +20% for using a net, etc.

    Grappling & pinning doesn't normally do any damage and it's a good way to signify 'fight over'. If the grappler's friends then try to kill the pinned target they can attack at +4, if he can't break free they'll eventually kill him.

  23. Actually it looks like +20% per additional character works better, which would be +4 if you use a d20 system.