Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Hazards and Obstacles in 13th Age

So i've been thinking about injecting a more tactical 'feeling' into combat and i've been looking at movement and how to track it, but I guess its due to a a bit of disappointment in how traps and hazards are handled within 13th Age.

Now I do totally get that 13A explicitly doesn't place an emphasis tactical combat, thats the whole point and one of the reasons combats run so fast and I love it. But I do think there could be a way of handling hazards and obstacles that perhaps treats them more like 4e giving them pseudo monster attributes, something given the way monsters function in 13A could be very rewarding.

Hazards and Obstacles as Monsters

Creating a Hazard or Obstacle is going to be pretty simple, the easiest route is to use information we have available to us already. The monster tables give us statistics, such as HP Defences and Damage. We also have impromptu damage for single/multiple targets. I'd go with the damage numbers from the Monster stat table - they're less swingy and you have a better range of results, but its worth considering both options.

Another great thing about the monster stat tables is that it lets us balance the number of offensive hazards within the system of building encounters. Its up to you if you feel the balancing values are equal to monsters, remember that a monster will always act and attempt to do damage but an obstacle or hazard wont necessarily unless its triggered.

The main thing we have to look at is movement and how other creature move around and interact with the hazard. First its obvious that a Hazard or Obstacle should occupy a space in the world in a similar way creatures do, you can be engaged with it, nearby, far away and behind it. The only ones really worth explaining are engaged and behind. It makes perfect sense  that a creature could be behind a hazard or obstacle, and the the hazard or obstacle would intercept ANY creature moving to engage.

Its worth noting that I dont really think that the creature needs to make a disengage check to get away (unless thats part of the trap, such as an iron maiden) it just makes sense to think of it this way.

And if the hazard or obstacle is successful in intercepting the creature then its engaged with it, this would typically trigger an attack, check or some sort of status effect - you would record these as you would attacks and powers for regular monsters. You could also have powers that trigger an attack when a creature moves behind a Hazard or Obstacle if they don't know the location of a trigger mechanism (to represent a blow gun trap) The powers could also determine difficulties for certain ways of disarming OR you could leave it freeform and judge each attempt to disable them as you see fit (Normal, Hard, Ridiculously Hard)

Some Hazards and Obstacles wont move, a non-magical pit trap stays where it was built so we don't have to worry about it moving but of course we can use movement if we want, again i'd take exiting creatures lead on movement rules.

I think that pretty much makes sense, but to further illustrate i've come up with a couple of verysimple examples of traps we probably all recognise:

Example Traps

Hole in the ground
Level 1 (Trap
Init: -
HP: -  AC: -  PD: - MD: -

Fall : +6 vs AC - 5 damage and the target is stuck save ends.

Spot : A creature spots the Hole on a Regular wisdom background check.

Trigger : The hole makes a Fall attack against any creature moving to be behind it that has not spotted it

Flame Nozzles
Level 4 (Trap
Init: +7
HP: -  AC: -  PD: - MD: -

Gout of Flame : +9 vs AC (1d6 nearby creatures) - 14 damage and 7 ongoing damage.

Miss : 7 ongoing damage.

Spot : A creature spots the Flame Nozzles on a Hard wisdom background check.

Trigger : The hole makes a Gout of Flame attack when any creature moves Nearby it. 

Disarm : Once spotted the Flame Nozzle can be disarmed with 2 Hard Dexterity Background checks.

I've purposefully left the details of spotting and disarming, ie the logical real world elements of the traps very vague. Some people are happy with this level of abstraction, but you can easily build upon it to devise something more tangible that players could disarm (proper mechanism's, control panels etc) Its your call.

I hope this give some food for thought! Happy gaming all!