Thursday, March 26, 2015

Expanding the Realm

The designer of the awesome RealmSpeak, an application that allows you to play Magic Realm on your computer, has made the code open source. You can get it here.

This means that even though the last thing I need is another side project, I am going to be trying my hand at expanding Magic Realm. The first order of business will be to get myself used to the code and how it works, but then I will be creating an expansion to add a number of spells to the game.

Though I love how magic works in Magic Realm, I always thought that there weren't quite enough good options for spell casters. Certain spell casters could indeed be very effective, heck some of them are almost unkillable if played correctly, but their options were sparse and playing a spell caster generally means picking the one or two obvious choices for your character.

So, over the next few weeks I will be diving into the world of Java programming to see if we can expand the spell books of the Realm. If you have any suggestions about additions you might like to see in this venerable game, drop me a line... otherwise, wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Can We Retire 'Fantasy Heartbreaker' Now?

A friend of mine recently called a game of his a "Fantasy Heartbreaker." Having lived through the stupid rpg internet arguments of the '90, my first thought was to gripe and groan. But, I held my tongue and imagined for a moment, that after 15+ years, maybe this term had taken on a new meaning. Perhaps, like Randal in Clerks 2, we were "taking it back."

As it turns out (much like Randal in Clerks 2) we're not taking it back. It is still sprinkled with condescension, a touch of derision and just a dash of wrongheaded agenda. It is still out there in posts and discussions. Indeed, the top article in a Google search is the Wikia definition:
fantasy heartbreaker is, essentially, a Dungeons & Dragons knock-off. Ron Edwards coined the term to describe a species of games published in the RPG boom of the 1990s, long after their purported innovations could be considered original. The term usefully describes games which are mired in preconceptions arising from the D&D paradigm. A criticism of the term is that it implies dismissal of the idea you can make "D&D, but better," which might be a desirable goal for some designers.
After 15+ years, do I care anymore? Eh... obviously enough to spend 15 minutes internet ranting about it, so yeah, a little.

My issue with the term Fantasy Heartbreaker is the same issue I had the old days -- it denies one of the main joys of the hobby, which is that strong element of homebrew, do it yourself tweaking. So, it bothers me when I see someone post, "I had this game idea, but decided to scrap it because the world does not need another fantasy heartbreaker."

The only correct answer to that is "Hell yeah we need it!" Look... it's 2015. The top selling rpg of the past year was a D&D knock-off. The entire OSR movement is full of fantasy heartbreakers. Tell me exactly whose heart is being broken... by all of these games people are writing, playing, and enjoying? What used to be a crappy term has become a meaningless one. Maybe it's time to retire it?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Magic Realm Combat -- The Very Basics

This is the first part of a larger tutorial:

My story about my sons' misadventures with the Tremendous Demon sparked some lively Magic Realm discussion, and ultimately, led to a friend and I playing a couple of games. My buddy enjoys Magic Realm quite a bit, but admits he rarely plays the game without me because he doesn't quite understand combat or magic enough to play the game on his own. Even with the wonderful tool Realmspeak, he just isn't comfortable.

That fact, and a couple of comments led me to think a few tutorial posts might be a good idea. Now, I am by no means an expert player -- I die a lot. But hopefully, I will be able to add a little to your understanding of this awesome game.

The next few posts, we will be going over the combat rules, in increasing detail. If that works out, and I don't run out of steam, or totally confuse everyone, I will move on to spell casting. So, let's start with the basics of Magic Realm's amazing combat system.

One thing to remember -- Relax, it's not that bad. For as legendarily complex as MR is, ultimately, the combat system deals with the same core things that any rpg combat system does. Do you hit your target? How much damage do you do? How much damage can you take? The actual guts of the combat system are pretty simple and much of the difficulty comes from making the NPCs work, and from the various additions... like horses, spell casting, etc.

The Combat Sequence

The MR combat sequence has the following steps

  • Luring
  • Random Assignment
  • Deploy
  • Actions
  • Assign Targets
  • Position Attacks and Maneuvers
  • Shift Monsters and Roll Tactics
  • Resolve Attacks
  • Wound/Fatigue
  • Check for Combat End

For this first post, we are going to focus on the core of the combat system: Do you hit your target? How much damage do you do? How much damage can you take? To do that we are going to run through a simple battle --the Captain facing a lone axe goblin.

The first three phases of the combat sequence deal with which monsters attack which characters/hirelings. Because there is one unhidden character, facing a single monster, we know who is attacking whom, and so we can effectively ignore Luring, Random Assignment and Deployment for this battle. Every round, the goblin ends up on the Captain's combat sheet, attacking him. Similarly, every round, we will be attacking the goblin.

The Captain's 12 Combat Chits
Combat Chits -- Move and Fight

Every character's combat abilities are described by a set of 12 combat chits.

  • Chits have a Type: FIGHT chits are used to attack, MOVE chits are used to defend. (MAGIC chits also exist, but that is for another time.) 
  • Chits have a Weight: Chits are either Light, Medium, Heavy or Tremendous. The weight of a chit tells us what kinds of weapons and armor can be used in battle. If you have a medium weapon, you need a medium chit to use it. If you are wearing heavy armor, you can only play heavy or tremendous MOVE chits. The weight of a chit can also alter the damage of an attack. We'll discuss that later.
  • Chits have a Speed: Chits have a speed from 1 (super fast) to 6 (really slow). The speed of the chits played in a given round can determine whether or not an attack hits, and the order in which they are resolved.
  • Chits have Effort: Each chit has anywhere from 0 to 2 effort asterisks that tell us how tiring a specific chit is to play. A chit with no asterisks does not require effort. A chit with two asterisks is very tiring to play.

So, the Captain has medium move chits, which means he can wear medium armor. His speeds are between 3-5, which is average, but notice that his MOVE M3** has two asterisks. It is very tiring to play, and we'll usually try not to play it if possible. We have a mix of medium and heavy fight chits, and so, we can wield weapons that have a heavy weight. However, our FIGHT H chits are slow, and we start with a light weapon, so we will generally stick to the medium FIGHTs. These are similar to our MOVE chits, having speeds 3-5, but the fastest chit has two asterisks and tires us out.

Monsters Have "Chits" Too... Sort Of

Our goblin adversary has similar "stats" as well. Denizens of the realm have two sides representing different "tactics" they use in battle. Monsters start a battle light-side up and on that side, the goblin has a block that looks like this L4*. This means that the goblins FIGHT does Light damage, and attacks with a speed of 4. Monsters don't fatigue though... that star is a sharpness star, and it increases the damage of the goblin's attack (we'll talk about that later). The 3 on the opposite side of the counter without the letter, is the goblin's MOVE speed of 3.

If the goblin "changes tactics" during combat, he will turn dark-side up. If that happens, the goblin's attack becomes Medium (with a sharpness star), but his MOVE speed drops to 4. He hits harder, but is slower on defense.


Both the Captain and the goblin have another important characteristic that isn't shown on any counter -- Vulnerability. Vulnerability is your toughness. It reflects how hard a hit you can take before you die. The Captain's vulnerability, listed on his character card, is Medium. A medium harm hit to the Captain will kill him.

Medium, Heavy and Tremendous
The goblin's vulnerability is also medium and we can tell this by the size of his counter. Monsters with small counters have Medium vulnerability. Monsters with the mid-sized counters are Heavy and monsters with the largest counters are Tremendous.

Weapons of War

The final thing I want to look at before getting to the actual battle is the weapon carried by the Captain. Weapons in Magic Realm have several characteristics.

  • Weapons Have a Weight: A weapon has a weight (Negligible, Light, Medium, Heavy or Tremendous) that indicates how strong a FIGHT chit is required to play it. In addition, the weapon's weight determines how much damage it does when it hits.
  • Weapons Have Sharpness: Some weapons have sharpness starts next to their weight. Just like the goblin, these stars will increase the damage done when the weapon hits. We'll discuss exactly how much later.
  • Weapons Have a Speed: Some weapon chits have a number on them. These are speed numbers and work like FIGHT chits. 1 is really fast, 6 is really slow. If your weapon has a speed associated with it, then that number supersedes the speed on your FIGHT chit. This can be really important to remember in a fight.
  • Weapons Have an Alerted Side and an Unalerted Side: All weapon chits have two sides. The white side with no asterisk is the UNALERTED side. The red side, with the asterisk, is the ALERTED side. This is important because most weapons have totally different (better) stats when they are alerted.
  • Weapons Have a Length: Weapons have a length which, along with speed, helps determine who strikes first in a battle. The lengths of the weapons are printed in a chart in the rule book.

Now, let's look at the Captain's short sword -- one of the crappiest weapons in the game in my opinion. The short sword is a Light weapon with one sharpness star (which as we will see, means it does Medium harm). It's length is 3, making it one of the shortest weapons in the game, but it's meager reach is higher than that of many of the creatures of the realm. On it's alerted side, you can see that nothing changes. It is no better alerted than when unalerted.

Compare this to the mace, which is the weapon with which the infamous Black Knight starts the game. The mace does Medium damage, which is similar to the Light, but sharp short sword. The mace's length is 1, which is nearly the shortest in the game. Still higher than most creatures, but the short sword has the advantage. However, we can see that, when alerted, the mace's speed is 3, which is pretty fast. In fact, if you look at the Captain's chits, that 3 speed is as fast as the fastest FIGHT chit, the Captain can play -- his FIGHT M3**. It might not look like much now, but that is a huge advantage for the mace, and plays very heavily into the tactics used by a character that wields one.

Onward to Battle!

So, in a nameless clearing in the Magic Realm, a unarmored Captain faces a lone axe goblin. The Luring, Random Assignment, and Deploy steps are there to determine which denizens and NPCs attack which characters. For this first battle, we will mostly ignore those steps. The Captain isn't hidden, and so he lures the goblin to his sheet -- in other words, the goblin will be attacking the Captain every round. After I awkwardly throw all my counters on there for you to see, our sheet looks like this:

The Action Step

The action step is where we need to make our first decision. There are several things we can do on our action step, but as a fighter, the main options we need to consider are:

  • Do we run?
  • Do we alert our weapon?
Do We Run?

To run, we need to play a MOVE chit that has a speed less than the move speeds of all the enemies on our sheet. The goblin's move is 3 and our best MOVE chit is a MOVE M3**, so we cannot run even if we wanted to. If you refer back to the goblin's chit, you may note that its flip side has a move speed of 4 and we could flee if the goblin were to flip.

Do we even need to run? Not in this case. As we go further in the round, we will see that the Captain indeed does enough damage to kill the goblin, and that a lone goblin has no chance against our stalwart veteran.

Do We Alert?

To alert our weapon, we need to play a FIGHT chit that has a speed less than the move speeds of all the enemies on our sheet. Our fastest FIGHT is a FIGHT M3**, so we cannot alert our short sword. However, you might already realize that there is no reason to alert a short sword -- it has the same characteristics either way.

So, we can't run and we can't alert, so we will do nothing for our action step.

The Assign Targets Step

For this step, we place our Attention chit on our target. For this battle it is pretty simple since there is only one creature to fight. However, even if we were fighting a gaggle of goblins, we would still choose a single goblin to attack -- while they would all attack us each round.

The Position Step

For this step, we place the goblin in one of the three red boxes (just put him in the first box, because he might move in the Tactics step) and then place our MOVE and FIGHT chits. Our FIGHT chit, along with our weapon, goes into one of the Attack circles in the upper-right of the sheet. Our MOVE chit goes in one of the Maneuver squares at the bottom of the sheet.

Placing your MOVE and FIGHT chits might seem like voodoo magic, but there are some pretty simple things to consider... (though they are not necessarily in this order):
  • Can I play a FIGHT chit to undercut the opponent's move speed?
  • Can I play a MOVE chit to ensure I am not undercut by the opponent's fight speed?
  • Who attacks first this round?
  • Should I cover my MOVE in case my opponent intercepts me? (What happens if my opponent hits me?)
  • Can I avoid fatigue this round?

Undercutting Your Opponent

There are two ways to hit your opponent in Magic Realm. The first way it to undercut him, by playing a FIGHT chit with a speed less than his move speed. If you do this, you automatically hit your opponent that round, regardless of how he moves in the Tactics step. If we can guarantee a hit, we often should... but that depends on other considerations that come later.

For now, it is enough to note that with his move speed of 3, we cannot undercut the goblin currently, even with our best FIGHT chit (M3**). Of course, if the goblin flips during the Tactics step, we could undercut with our FIGHT M3**, but there are some other things to consider, and as you will see, there is no need to undercut the axe goblin.

Not Getting Undercut

Of course with his L4* attack, the goblin can undercut us if we don't play a MOVE chit with a speed of 4 or better. Though it is sometimes ok to be undercut, it is often a bad thing, and in this case we want to avoid it. We will be playing one of our MOVE M4* chits to avoid being hit.

Who Attacks First?

This question is pretty important for this battle. Because it is the first round of combat, weapon length and then attack speed determines who attacks first. Our short sword has a length of 3. The axe goblin has a length of 2 (from the monster chart in the book). So, in the first round of battle, we attack first, which is a good thing.

In the second and subsequent rounds of battle, the importance is reversed. Attack speed determines who attacks first, but on attacks of equal speed, weapon length determines who has initiative. So, on later rounds, if we play a FIGHT with a speed of 5 or 6, the goblin goes first. If we play a FIGHT of 4 or better, we go first.

So... the nice thing is, because we cannot undercut the goblin, and this is the first combat round, we go first, no matter how slow our FIGHT chit is. We might as well play our slowest, heaviest, least fatiguing FIGHT chit. So, we will play our FIGHT H6... the question is where?

Intercepting Your Opponent

So far, we have determined that we are playing our MOVE M4* chit and our FIGHT H6 chit. The only question we have now is whether we will cover our move or not. This has to do with the second way to hit an enemy in Magic Realm, intercepting his maneuver. So, after you place your chits, and the Tactics step moves (and flips?) the enemies on your sheet, if your attack lines up with your target's red box (ex. you played Thrust and he is in Thrust and Charge), you intercept and hit him. Also, if your opponent's red box lines up with your maneuver (ex. he ends up in Duck and Smash and your maneuver is Duck), he intercepts you and hits you.

We are playing our chits to cover our move
Covering Your Move

Here's the thing, you can't control whether you will intercept your opponent. The red box your opponent ends up in is entirely random, so you have a 1/3 chance to intercept each round. What you can control is whether you will intercept him if he intercepts you. To do this, you play your FIGHT in the attack circle that corresponds with the maneuver in which you played your MOVE. Playing this way is called covering your move.

So, if I play my MOVE in the Charge box and my attack in the Thrust box, I have covered my move. If my targeted opponent ends up in the Thrust/Charge red box, he will intercept (and thus hit) me, but I will also intercept (and thus hit) him.

You generally want to cover your move if:

  • Your target is a dangerous opponent and
  • You will attack before your target this round and
  • You can kill your target
You want to not cover your move if:
  • Your target is dangerous and
  • You will attack after your target or
  • Your attack will not kill your target
We are going to play to cover our move. Let's play our FIGHT H6 in the Swing attack space and let's play our MOVE M4* in the Dodge maneuver space. Once we play our chits, it is time to move to the next step.

Shifting Monsters and Tactics

Now, we roll some dice to determine which maneuver box our opponent ends up in, and which side of his counter flips up. We roll a SINGLE die and compare it to the repositioning chart. In this case, we roll a 3 and we get "bottom right box unchanged", meaning we switch the top two boxes. Our goblin goes to the Dodge/Swing box and whoever was in the Dodge/Swing box (no one this time) goes into Charge/Thrust.

We then roll TWO dice and if either of them is a 6, our goblin "changes tactics" and that means we flip him and use the stats on his dark side. We roll a 4 and a 2, so our goblin does not flip and our sheet ends up looking like this:

Resolve Attacks

Now, we can resolve our attacks -- which because this is the first round of battle, we do so in order of weapon length. If you remember, our Captain's sword is length 3, which edges out the goblins length 2 attack, so our attack is resolved before the goblin's.

Our attack does not undercut the goblin, because our attack time of 6 is slower than the goblin's move of 3. However, because he moved into the Swing/Dodge box, we intercept and hit the goblin regardless of our relative speeds.


Our short sword does light damage. However, it is a melee weapon and thus, the strength of our FIGHT chit matters. We played a Heavy FIGHT, which is more than the Light chit required to wield the short sword. This overstrengths the weapon and increases the damage by one step. So, our Light sword now does Medium harm.

In addition, the sword has a single sharpness star. The harm done by an attack is increased by a level for each sharpness star. So, our damage is increased again from Medium to Heavy.

When our Heavy harm attack hits a Medium vulnerability goblin, the goblin is killed. Because it is killed before its attack is resolved, its attack is cancelled. This is a good thing, because as you can see, the goblin also intercepted our maneuver, which would have meant a Meduim hit (the goblin does L* damage) on the Captain... enough to kill him.

This is why we covered out move in this battle. The goblin could kill us, but could not undercut us. Thus, covering our move insured that if the goblin hit us, we would hit the goblin... knowing that our slightly longer weapon would insure we would vanquish the creature before he struck a killing blow.

Let's Up the Ante

So, after a whole bunch of explanation, we see that the Captain can easily handle a single goblin. Let's use what we know and see what happens to the Captain as he faces three goblins. This battle will be a tiny bit rougher, so we will give our hero his armor back... which gives us the chance to see how armor works too.

So, just like last battle, we will take all of the goblins on our sheet, and we won't be fleeing, or alerting a weapon, so we can skip to the Position step and our sheet looks like this:

Position Step

You might be asking why we spread the goblins out into three maneuver boxes. If you understand how attacks are resolved, you realize that spreading the enemies out means that one of them is bound to intercept and hit us, so it would seem like a bad idea. Short answer... the rules make us do this. We have to fill as many boxes as we can with enemies. So three bad guys means three attacks from three different directions. We are very likely going to get hit before we can defeat all of the goblins, which is why we gave the Captain his armor.

You can see we put the armor in the armor ovals. The breastplate and the helmet have to go in the ovals in which you see them. The shield can be placed in any of the three ovals to protect any of the maneuvers. We will use it to protect our Charge. Like last fight, we played a FIGHT H6 and a MOVE M4*, and targeted the first goblin, covering our Charge maneuver with a Thrust attack. Now, we will roll some dice to reposition the monsters and see if they flip.

Our reposition die is a 5 -- shift down and to the right. So, every goblin changes boxes, moving down and to the right. The guy already on the bottom gets shifted up to the Thrust/Charge box. 

After Repositioning
Now we roll for each goblin to see if they flip. For the goblin in box 1, we roll a 6/2 and he flips to his dark side. The goblin in box 2 gets a 5/3 and the guy in box 3 get a 6/6, so he flips. Our sheet now looks like this:

Goblins 1&3 Change Tactics
Now, we resolve attacks. It is round one, so our length 3 short sword is first, and as you can see, we don't undercut our target, and because he repositioned, we don't intercept him either. We miss. The good news is that because we miss, our weapon is alerted. The bad news is, that doesn't matter for the lame short sword.

Next, the goblin attacks are resolved. Because their weapons are the same length, and their attack times are all the same, all of their attacks happen at the same time and are resolved at the same time. For simplicity's sake, let's not just handle the attacks one at a time.

The goblins in boxes 2 and 3 are easy to handle. Their attack times of 4 are equal to our MOVE M4* speed, but that isn't good enough to undercut us. Checking their attack directions, you can see that they don't intercept our Charge move either. Both goblins 2 & 3 miss us this round... thankfully.

The goblin in box 1 on the other hand, intercepts our Charge and thus hits regardless of attack/maneuver speed. So how much harm does he do?

His attack is M4*, which is Heavy harm, which will kill the Captain... except that the Captain has his shield in the way. So, what happens when an attack hits armor?
  • If the attack has sharpness stars, one of the stars is removed (if it has none, the harm is not reduced)
  • If the resulting harm exceeds the weight, the armor is destroyed
  • If the resulting harm equals the weight, the armor is damaged and flipped
  • If the resulting harm is Medium or greater, the character is wounded
Let's resolve this Medium* attack hitting the shield.
  • First, we remove a sharpness star, making the attack a Medium harm attack
  • The Medium harm does NOT exceed the shield's Medium weight
  • The Medium harm DOES equal the shield's Medium weight, so the shield is flipped to the damaged side
  • The Medium attack wounds the Captain -- which is great considering that without armor, that blow kills him
A wound means we take a chit out of play. If all of our chits end up wounded, or fatigued, we die, but that is a long way off. So, we choose the MOVE M5 because we are unlikely to want to play it this fight, since doing so means being undercut and hit by three angry goblins.


I ignored fatigue last battle because it was not going to come up. We aren't going to fatigue this round either, but I mention it because it is bound to come up in future combat rounds.

In any given round, you are only allowed to play a total of two effort asterisks. This includes chits played to flee, to alert a weapon, and MOVE and FIGHT chits. Every chit you use is placed in the "Used this Round" box and at the end of the round, if you played two asterisks, you must fatigue one asterisk worth of chits.

Onto Round 2

Not a great start for the Captain. Our shield is damaged, we have a chit wounded, and still there are three goblins to deal with.
Round 2 Position Step
This is our round 2 positioning. You can see our weapon is alerted, and we are still attacking the goblin in box 1 and covering our Charge maneuver. You might also notice that we changed our FIGHT chit. We are now playing the FIGHT M4* instead of the H6. Why?

Remember that because this is round 2, attack speed determines whose attack is resolved first, followed by weapon length. We are covering our move, but if we want to kill our target before he wounds us again, we need to play an attack of at least speed 4.

Our repo die is a 4 which means no change -- all the goblins stay where they are. Now, we see who flips. We roll for each goblin and only box 2 flips with a 6/3. Our sheet looks like this:

Round 2 After Repositioning/Tactics Roll
Time to resolve attacks. Every attack on the board is a speed 4, but our weapon is still longer, so we resolve first. Our attack intercepts our target in box 1, so we hit him, overstrengthing our weapon for M* harm, which kills the goblin. His attack is cancelled and just like last round, the monsters in boxes 2 & 3 neither undercut, or intercept, so they miss.

Because our attack hit, we flip our weapon to its unalerted side.

No wounds this round, but we did play two effort asterisks and so we have to fatigue a chit. Because we played both a FIGHT and a MOVE with effort, we can choose to fatigue an asterisk from either category. I choose one of my FIGHT H5* chits and it goes out of play.

Round 3

Not so bad. We have one chit fatigued and another wounded. There are two goblins on our sheet, but they are both dark side up, which gives us an option we didn't have before. See, the dark side of the goblin counter shows a move speed of 4, which means we can play our MOVE M3** during the action step to flee the battle.

Nah... let's ride this one out and see what happens! Like last round, we are going to play a FIGHT M4* and a MOVE M4* and cover our maneuver. We are hoping to kill a second goblin before fatigue gets to us and before the goblins wound us too much to continue.

Round 3 Position Step
Ugh, the repo roll is a 6, meaning the monsters move up and to the left. That means goblin 2 moves to box 1 and my target evades my attack by shifting to box 3. Rolling to flip, I get the goblin now in box 1 flipping with a 6/6. My sheet looks like this:

I am hit again!
We resolve first, but miss our target (who also misses me). We flip our weapon red-side up. The goblin in box 1 intercepts and hits, but we have the shield in the way. Let's resolve the Light* attack hitting the shield.
  • First, we remove a sharpness star, making the attack a Light harm attack
  • The Light harm does NOT exceed the shield's Medium weight
  • The Light harm does NOT equal the shield's Medium weight and thus the shield is unaffected
  • The Light attack does NOT wound the Captain
In this case, the shield not only kept us from dying, it protected us from all harm and wasn't even damaged! But we played two asterisks and still have to fatigue. We choose the second FIGHT H5* and go to round 4.

Round 4

For round 4, let's change tactics a bit. We have one goblin dark-side up who has a move speed of 4. The other goblin has a move speed of 3, but if he hits armor, does no damage to us. We can undercut the dark-side goblin by playing our FIGHT M3**, and that will guarantee a hit, but what MOVE will we play in that case? We foolishly wounded our MOVE M5 previously and if we are playing a two asterisk attack, we need a no asterisk defense option.

Funny thing is, we can choose to not play a FIGHT or MOVE in a round if we don't want to. If we fail to play a FIGHT, we don't attack that round... not an option here. If we don't play a MOVE, we are automatically hit by every enemy on my sheet when it comes time to resolve their attacks. That sounds dumb, but think about it.

If we play FIGHT M3** on the goblin with a move speed of 4, we will resolve first (faster attack) and hit, killing that goblin before he hits back. The other goblin will auto-hit us, but since he is currently doing L* damage, his attack will harmlessly bounce off our armor. Assuming no one flips, of course!

If the target flips, his move speed becomes 3, meaning we no longer undercut him and we might miss. If the second goblin flips, his attack becomes an M* attack, meaning he will damage our armor and wound us.

So Will They Flip?

For the "Change Tactics" roll, you roll two dice and take the highest one. The chance of one of result coming up a six (meaning either die is a six), is 11/36 or 30.6%. So, here is the breakdown of my chances:

  • 48.2%  No one flips, we kill our target and take no damage from the second. This is the best-case scenario
  • 21.2%  Our target remains dark-side, but the other guy flips. We get our kill, but the second goblin wounds us.
  • 14.1%  Our target flips to light-side, but the other guy remains. We don't get a kill, but aren't harmed either.
  • 7.1%  Our target flips to light-side, but the other guy remains. However, we intercept our goblin and kill him anyway.
  • 6.3%  Both goblins flip. We miss our target and are wounded by the second goblin.
  • 3.1%  Both goblins flip, but we intercept our target and kill him anyway. We are still wounded by the second goblin.
These aren't bad odds, really. We nearly have an 80% chance of killing our target and we have almost a 70% chance of not being harmed this round. That's pretty good. Is it better than our current tactics of playing the FIGHT and MOVE M4* and hoping for an intercept?
  • 33.3%  We intercept our target, kill him and are not hit
  • 33.3%  We don't intercept our target and we are not intercepted
  • 23.2%  We don't intercept our target and are intercepted by the second goblin. However, he remains light-side up and does no damage
  • 10.2%  We don't intercept our target and are intercepted by the second goblin who flips and wounds us
We have a 33.3% chance of getting a kill if we wait for an intercept. We have nearly a 90% chance of not taking a wound. So, waiting on an intercept is a slightly more defensive tactic, but seriously drops our chance of getting a kill. Let's go for the kill and play our FIGHT M3**!

Round 4 Position Step

Our repo roll is a 3 so the bottom right box is unchanged, meaning we flip boxes 1 & 2. We roll to change tactics and the goblin who ends up in box 1 flips with a 6/4. The goblin in box 2 does not flip.

Round 4 After Repositioning
Not the worst thing that could happen, or the best. Let's resolve attacks now. Our attack goes first because it is the fastest. Even though we don't intercept our target, we undercut his move speed of 4 with out attack speed of 3 and so we hit, doing M* damage, and kill him. Our weapon becomes unalerted.

The goblin in box 1 "undercuts" us because we didn't play a MOVE chit. He does M* harm, which reduces to M because it hits armor. However, that harm is enough to damage the shield again -- which destroys it. The M harm also wounds us.

We played two asterisks this round, so we will have to fatigue. Because both of our asterisks were on a FIGHT chit, we have to fatigue a FIGHT. We choose one of our remaining FIGHT M4*. We also have to wound a chit. We choose one of our MOVE M4* chits.

Round 5

Round 5 Position Step

We are down to our last goblin, and hoping for a quick end to this costly battle, I go with the FIGHT M3** again. When we roll for repositioning, we get a 2 which swaps boxes 1 & 3 and leaves the middle unchanged. More importantly, our target does not change tactics. This means that when we resolve attacks, we undercut and kill our target before he can wound us.

We have to fatigue a FIGHT again and I will fatigue the FIGHT M3**, making change by bringing our FIGHT M4* back into play. And then the combat is over. We ended up with two wounds and four asterisks fatigued. We also lost our shield. All in all a costly battle, but we felled three goblins.

We are beaten and bruised, but alive!
We will end this tutorial here. Hopefully, you have enjoyed it and learned something. We will continue this soon, adding tremendous monsters, multiple combatants and natives into the mix! If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Encounter at the Altar

The White Knight and the Barbarian skulked through the Deep Woods. Already, this unlikely alliance had felled spiders and giants and had plundered both the legendary Pool and the foul Cairn. Now, they followed rumors that the Druid had uncovered the unholy Altar and within, the Mouldy Skeleton, both brimming with treasures too heavy for him to possibly carry.

"We'll carry those for you, Dad!" my eleven year-old (Barbarian) snarked, much to the delight of his eight year-old brother (White Knight).

"Yeah, you two go right ahead," I grumped.

I'll admit, I was a little annoyed. I am not a big fan of the Druid. Not because he isn't a good character. His ability to avoid troublesome encounters is handy, but I find his play style to be a little boring -- avoid all fights, loot a site if you're lucky, and read runes, counting on Remedy to remove any curses. Nonetheless, I was excited to stumble upon the Altar and start looting, until I found treasures I could not carry with my light move chits, and the darn Mouldy Skeleton (with its H armor) was just the insult to add to my Druid's herniated disc.

I moved on, into the nearby cliffs, but my boys were all too happy to waltz in and try to collect some free, awesome magic weapons. They searched and looted for a couple of days. The Knight was coming up unlucky, but the Barbarian (with his previously found Lucky Charm) had gleefully claimed the Jade Shield.

But... the Magic Realm has a way of punishing those who push their charmed luck too far and indeed, after the third day of violating his Altar, the Demon arrived to punish the interlopers.

"Who dares violate the sanctity of my Altar!?" the tremendous Demon thundered into the clearing, reeking of sulfur and charred flesh. Though the beast was terrifying, the Knight had faced its kind before and with the power of faith and steel, had emerged victorious.

"This is an auto-kill, right?" Dan had played the White Knight before, and had traded out his slow great sword for the faster morning star.

"If you're hidden, sure. However, if you are not hidden, then the Demon is bound to get the first shot with his spell attack." I reminded Dan, and he and his brother both nodded. The plan was set, hide, maybe get in a couple extra loots, then onto fame and notoriety.

Unfortunately, the dice were not with them and both of them blew their hide rolls, leaving them blocked and exposed in the clearing with the Demon.

They were only a couple of meters from the cover of the stones when the twig snapped, and that crack rang through the clearing as though it came from the felling of a hundred trees. The Demon turned toward the warriors and grinned through razor-sharp teeth. "I smelled you, human filth, now I can see you." The beast charged, the fight was upon them...

"Rogue Seven," bellowed the Barbarian, "this looks dangerous. You take the lead!"

The Barbarian lured the Demon with his rogue hireling. This made sense. The Demon would attack first with his spell, but certainly be killed before he could kill any of the characters with his claws, which means his main threat was the dreaded Power of the Pit. The rogue was immune to the most common effects of this spell, and with the Demon focused on the rogue, the White Knight can ready his morning star in anticipation of the killing blow. Given that they were caught unhidden, this was a great strategy for minimizing their potential losses ("We salute you, Rogue 7!") and winning the fight.

The Demon went first, hit the rogue and... rolled double ones. Fiery Chasm Opens, killing all unhidden characters, natives and monsters in the clearing. Everyone dies. The boys stared at the dice in disbelief. I stifled a chuckle (poorly).

Just another evening in the Magic Realm.