Friday, August 12, 2011

[RPG] Is Fighting An Inherent Skill?

I am lamenting the state of the games I am * not * in again. I was in JR's Hellfrost campaign, but the second run in, more than half the party died in a freak exploding zombie accident.

It sounds like we're doing a reset, with new characters for the most part (except one guy who wasn't there- he's keeping his character that ran exactly ONCE, I don't get it).

I played a "face" before, but it was pointed out I might want to consider something else for any character I bring in, This IS a Savage Worlds game, so having a character with at least some fighting ability is probably wise. So, I'm considering what kind of character I want to play, and I keep coming back to two related thoughts.

1- I want to play a fighter at some point


2- I would MUCH rather play a talker than a fighter right now.

I find myself drawn to the idea of talking my way out of trouble much more than "smash it with a hammer" and struggle with the mere premise of a fighter/strong character. I watch other people playing fighters or paladins or knights or whatever and they are brilliant with their million and one ideas on how to attack, use 5 foot steps, attacks of opportunity, weapon range and parry and blah blah blah blah. All I see when I play a fighter are straight ahead options- kick, punch or bodyslam. Every now and then I will get real inventive and use a pole or stick to sweep the legs out from underneath bad dudes. But overall, I am just not creative enough with violence to be an effective fighter, even in pretend worlds.

I never have been- I have always been far more intrigued with words than physical confrontation. In most Super campaigns, I played mentalists, who used the power of the mind (and words) to defeat the enemy, rather than bricks or martial artists or other close combat guys.

I can't help but wonder if this is an intrinsic thing, and attempts to avert my "nature" are only going to fail. I played Jak, an angry and mostly violent man turned werewolf. His sign under the moon as a werewolf was a warrior, a fighter. I spent a lot of time and effort tethering Jak's rages, keeping him from violence- avoiding confrontation. Unfortunately,  the whole point of Werewolf is confrontation. If I had allowed him to be his natural self,  things might have gone differently.

But instead of accepting aggression, I worked towards negotiation. Is aggression something you just know?


  1. I tell my players this: "I'd much rather see you make an interesting character than an effective character. If all your character can do is fight really well, that's not very interesting to me."

    Give me a party full of hopeless romantics, spastic flailers, binge drinkers, compulsive liars and shameless flirts. I just don't know what to do with the person who has optimized every aspect of his or her character in order to be the Kwisatz Haderach of melee.

  2. I Think Loquacious was talking about a mentality, rather than optimisation, and yes to me they are wildly different.

    He was saying, no matter how the build or optimisation he will naturally gravitate to a more mediative way round a problem.

    I'm kindof the opposite, in games and life I tend to tackle things head on. I play fighters because when I don't more often than not I'm still trying to. my 40k armies have to be good in CC not because it's optimal, but because it's anathama to me to stay away from my enemy and shoot.

    In mediation and negotiation the trait still pervades, I haul the truth out very quickyl and confront it, even when that's by far not the best thing to do.

    don;t get me wrong, I dont have a problem with agression, (well not since i stopped being a teenager anyway) but I do prefer to confront issues, and situations.

    Wether this is "nature or nurture" I don't know, it certainly hasnt developed as a survival strategy as there are many instances it would have been better to take another approach :)

  3. But instead of accepting aggression, I worked towards negotiation. Is aggression something you just know?

    Yes, I think so, but a lot of the point of civilization is to teach people to try talking instead of reaching for a club right off. Most people are uncomfortable with violence. Some argue that this is natural, that committing violence is difficult and most people shun it. Others argue otherwise.

    If you wish to learn more, I'd suggest taking up a martial sport that involves sparring, like fencing or karate. If that's too much, then I'd suggest ballroom dance. The important thing would be to learn how bodies in contact move together. That might inspire you with ideas.

  4. Loq, I think its because you're a girl. Girls can't fight.



    I don't know the system you're using, but SW is a D&D thingy, isn't it? In my experience, those systems tend to foster a specific type of character building and playing style: min/maxing and hack&slash. I may draw some flak over this generalization, but I'll forge ahead anyway ;)

    I don't play much, but when I do, I like to play a character that can kick some ass, as well as string three words together to form a sentence. I see no argument prohibiting a fighter from being a talker as well. I see why stats can limit skill choices and modifiers, but limits do not mean prohibitions. All brawns and no brains is a common thug, the two combined is a deadly warrior.

    To answer your question about aggression, I would say that some people certainly have more of a talent towards that than others. Still, playing a good fighter doesn't necessarily hinge upon aggression, but on the willingness to place oneself in harm's way, and the ability and willingness to harm and/or kill another.

    About the system-specific tactics you mentioned, my advice would be to start by focussing on a few manoeuvres, and to learn to use them efficiently. Once you've got this down, add a few more --> rinse/repeat. Every warrior starts like this, so you could quite easily integrate this in your roleplaying.

  5. I don't see why, when almost everyone else in the party is a fighter of some sort, that you must build a fighter too. Both of my current Champions characters would rather not resort to violence. One wouldn't dirty their hands (the mentalist), and the other is more of a scout type (invisibility & desol) who has the personalitly of a wallflower.

    Now I am playing a paladin in a Pathfinder game, but the character is more of a talker, who can back up their talk with a longsword.

  6. "Now I am playing a paladin in a Pathfinder game, but the character is more of a talker, who can back up their talk with a longsword."

    This is exactly the type of character I like to play, and also the type I encourage my players to make. If playing a d20-system, that is.

  7. We've been doing a Deathwatch campaign with some friends and I'm playing a Techmarine which is quite a change for me as I'm usually 'The Hitter' of the group for the most part when I design characters. I grew up in a fairly rough area so physical confrontation and outright aggression is something I can relate to just fine in real life as well as from an RPG characters prospective. However being the member of the team who is the 'problem solver' of a different sort has been a far greater role-playing challenge for me as my natural instinct to 'get stuck in' is exactly the opposite to how my character would react which by virtue of it's challenge makes the whole thing a lot more fun.

  8. Harald:

    I'm frowning in the nicest possible way at you... =p Yes, I am a girl. With wiles and so on to be mindful of. Oh yeah- boobs, too. Watch out for those, they are powerful mighty.

    Harald & Tom:

    Savage Worlds is more like WW than D&D overall. However, it's damage system is wonky. One or two "wounds" and you are ok but probably need to get out of the situation quickly. Any more than that, you are in serious trouble. The problem is that it's very very easy to do damage- so a character without any sort of defenses is going to go down QUICKLY. So having some physical stats is pretty essential.

    The other real downside of SW is that it really only lets you be good at one or two things. It's VERY hard to make a character with talents in more than a couple abilities- at least to start.

    I'm still working on a character idea for the game because I really want to play- I just have to come up with something fun to me. It will probably involve male anatomy, as I find it easier to hit things if I imagine I'm a dude.

  9. Man, this campaign is really starting to kick my rear end.

    Any time I read or talk to someone in the campaign and they feel like they have to curb what they want to do, I feel like I'm doing something wrong as a GM.

    The setting is kind of a Song of Ice and Fire/Traditional High Fantasy/Heavily Norse Flavored mash up, so some combat is going to happen, but I by no means wanted to run just a hack and slash type game.

    I will say that when the rest of the party decides that the best thing you can do when you gather information on a cult is to bash in the door and set them on fire, it makes it hard for the person that might want to use streetwise to gather some information to find out trustworthy authorities or learn who might be supporting said conspiracy, etc.

    Part of the problem, I think, is that it seems like people have very different ideas about what they want out of the campaign, and I'm not sure that I'm able to cast a net wide enough to make everyone happy.

    I've also noticed that it seems like once you use a high fantasy setting in an RPG, the "D&D" protocols get activated, which, instead of being "sometimes we may have to fight to get out of this jam" turns into "the preferred solution to every problem is killing everything in our path. It wouldn't be in our path if it wasn't there to be killed."

    A note on Savage Worlds skills. The system is very fast and fun, as advertised, but it's also very unforgiving when you don't have something trained. There is a world of difference between being untrained in combat (d4-2) and being "trained" but not "average" (d4). Not to mention your parry jumps from 2 to 4, which is pretty significant if you get backed into a corner.

    It wasn't just Lo's character not having any combat skills that highlighted this in the Hellfrost game, however. When faced with climbing a hill which might have allowed for sneaking by an ambush or at least getting the drop on the assassins, the group couldn't really use this as an option, because I think only one or two people were trained in climbing, and with no ropes or climbing gear, that meant no one was getting up the hill.

    Still cogitating on this. The campaign is perplexing me. I've been having fun running the game, but I've also been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to make everything click and keep everyone fully satisfied with their character choices.

  10. Keeping everyone involved is a major problem for a GM, especially if they all want different things from the game. Especially if everyone wants to go in a different direction.

    The other night I was playing in a game and one of the other charactes blew away this bird (familiar) which was supposed to lead us to the bad guys!

    The GM sat there, stunned, and had to think of another way for the group to figure out what was going on.


  11. Fighting is both inherent and learned. Those that fight by nature are doomed to fall to those that learn the craft for they appreciate the limits.

    @anymous,"The GM sat there, stunned, and had to think of another way for the group to figure out what was going on."

    That's not the GM's role that's the players task and if they screw up, they screw up.

  12. JDJarvis: "That's not the GM's role that's the players task and if they screw up, they screw up."

    But what if there was only one way out of the situation? The group could be sitting around for hours trying to come up with something.

    Y'know what, we are getting off topic here. I don't want to hijack this thread.

    There are some people I know that couldn't fight their way out of a paper sack, but they might have other, very necessary skills that the party needs.

    Most fantasy RPGs don't seem to have room for these type of characters.