How much fighting?
most games I have been a PC in seem to have one common bond. Lots of fighting...The DM tends to think that throwing sword swinging bad guys at the part 3-9 times a game means action, and action makes for a perfect game.
Alot of DMs I have known have debated a point with me about "how much fighting is needed to keep a party happy"?
I found most GMs tend to find fighting to be the "money shot" of any session. but I beg to disagree (screw begging..I flat out say nahhh"...I have had players go through as many as three games without a single act of physical violence, or a scap of scrapping it out with fists or swords. I never found fighting to be as important as most of the GMs I have PCed for.
Now before you roll your eyes and think
"this kids a tree hugger...a winni the poo DM who makes his players struggle game to game scooping up honey"
Not true...I always tourture my players very souls with my games. I dont enjoy anything more in a game then seeing a players eyes go hay-wire while he studies his options and then says "F%%K!!! this is realllly bad"
I just dont use fighting as my most used mechanic for creating fear or tension. yes yes, a fight is great..the back bone, meat n potatos of RPGs, dungeons n dragons could easyly be renamed swords n blood, but Its not the gravity that draws a players fear to the story...its not the sun that all thing revolve around....quite the oppisit infact.
Fighting is either deadly or a waste of time. many problems can be resolved through parlay, and swords do not have to cut a man to convince him of not cuasing further violence.
I find many novice DMs chucking monster after monster at the party, creating that ever-so-humdrum feeling of an on-table arms race. The players get bigger, the monsters get stronger, soon there is no use or sight of an ork to the level of play so they become invisible to the story...the big monsters are the only ones left when everyone is 8th level, and the common world seems to dissipear as soon as the players reach levels of huge damage and distructive spell levels.
i think too many DMs give too much credit to death of the PC. Sure its horrible to lose your ranger to the umberhulk..but is that the only thing you got to scare me into fighting for this world? Big monsters? damage? Attacks vs AC? BAH!
I as a DM see killing you to be the fast-food of fear. If you reach 10th level orks can still be everything you fear more then losing those levels to the vampire camp that I had to invent to challenge you...
Insted of unleashing 5 vampires in hopes to hit your amazing ac and actually kill you with all I am legally allowed to throw at you...I much rather use my orks. My orks are nothing to the party...I assume they can now take 100 orks without getting close t dieing....fine..thats cute...so what? Your gunna go piss of th entire ork race cus your so much bigger then an ork...right? ok..cool.
Word arives from Fhalcore by falcon, the orks have sent two armies to the farmlands, they have captured an important diplomat who was there negotiating our food supply...They are going to kill him...this cant happen. thy also captured the duaghter of the leader of the Farmer's guild, and if she dies, they will surly blame your stupidity for starting crap with the orks...now you got a few options.
1-Go and work out a deal with the orks (in my game all negotiations run on a very simple system, dealing with carisma rolls vs three stages of any agreement...since there is a racial differnce here, the CHR score recieves a -4). They can go and work out a deal...and if the talks go well I have prepeared a counter offer....
"you want human's back?" You go kill stone giant in hilly hills...grunt grunt"
Go fight that...theres a good fight, but its optional and not really reccomended for those who think 2d6+8 might be deadly...thaco being 7 dont look good either.
2-March in there to fight them....make this choice look possible, but of course my notes will say sumthing along the lines of
"if party uses force, there is a 15% chance per hostage, per round of tribe being aware of attack that they kill both hostages"
The fight would be over in about 5-10 rounds depending on the huge numbers of the tribe...but fighting sure is easy, and we will surly kick easy butt....saddly after the battle we learn that that was stupid.
3- get a theive to hide in shadows n move silently a nessary amount of times, release the hostages and attempt to get them out with more rolls o move n hide (with a negitive -10% to all checks due to having non-theives present)
This sort of thing could work..but is dangerous. I would also prolly note
"if the party tries a less violent tactic like sneeking around in the dark and the attempt is found out...the hostages have a 10% chance of dieing that night
4-I would add in somthing like a small side plot
"the ork's warrior king's wife is travling by caravan, guarded by 30 orks, to mate with the other king across the mountains (to insure blood mixing between tribes)...if the party searches enough through communication rivers between humans and crude races- they can find this info...and exsploit it...take out the 30 orks (violently or just by bringing overwhelming numbers of hired mercs) and take the ork's main breeding queen hostage...gaining a +4 bounus to any negotiations with the orks in the future...this is how we run such negotiations in my game.
Now most DMs would do somthing like this.
You have followed the orks for days. Now you found them. The King has 4 oger guards, and the tribe watches as you battle for the hostages in some strange ork ritual where their king faces the enemy with nothing but his orger guards.
You fight them...Somthing dies. The hostages are honored and released, the party moves on, gaining respect and love from all.
Nah...Fights are great. But I always used the rule from the 2e system of D&D, if the party finds a way to defeat an enemy without cuasing violence, the party should recieve full XP for monsters as if they defeated them in battle...
Killing you in a fight is the leastbadass way to tourture a PC...mess with who they love, make a single kobold important enough that the entire game rests on him NOT getting killed, or just plain force them to return the cities favour and undieing respect with having to become the cities diplomat, having to negotiate the future of the people with CHR, and good choices...
Fighting is not my sword of choice.