Category Archives: Combat

Minion Motivation

As a Game Master you probably spend a fair amount of time creating a Big Bad for your adventures. Part of this creation involves coming up with a motivation for this Big Bad. By determining why they do the things they do it is easier for you to determine how they will act in different situations. Motivation is an important aspect in creating well-rounded characters in your game. But, have you ever stopped to think about the motivations for the minions that serve the Big Bad? These NPC’s are often just nameless cannon fodder. We trot them out for the PC’s to fight without a second thought as to why they are fighting.  However, a minion’s motivation defines their actions just as much as the Big Bad.  Continue reading Minion Motivation

Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: The Nine Situations

imagesAt long last, the final installment of Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat. You can check out the first three parts here, here, and here. This part will cover Chapter XI: The Nine Situations. The Nine Situations refers to the nine different types of ground that an army may find themselves on during war. It is slightly similar to terrain, but it has more to do with a commander recognizing his position on the battlefield and taking the appropriate actions. Continue reading Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: The Nine Situations

Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: Terrain

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We previously covered Chapter III and Chapter VI of Sun Tzu’s classic military treatise The Art of War. That means it must be time for Chapter X which covers terrain. Don’t try to figure out my system. Most DMs take terrain into consideration when running an RPG campaign, but we need to consider it as more than a tool for establishing the story setting. Terrain can also be turned into a weapon when running combat. Continue reading Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: Terrain

Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: Weak Points and Strong

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Welcome to the second installment in our RPG combat analysis of Sun Tzu’s military treatise The Art of War. In the first post we discussed Chapter III, Attack By Strategem. This post will take a look at Chapter VI, Weak Points and Strong. This chapter advises generals how to exploit the weakness of an enemy and how to use tactics to turn strengths into weaknesses. This second part is especially useful when running monster combat since the party usually has a strength advantage. Continue reading Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: Weak Points and Strong

Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: Attack By Stratagem

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One thing that really bothers me are when DMs who don’t put any effort into running their combat encounters. They fill their campaigns with monsters that act more like vending machines for XP and treasure than real opponents. Intelligent monsters rush headlong into combat against the group without any hint of a combat strategy. This is unrealistic and it makes for boring combat. DMs don’t need to be retired generals in order to run great combat, but learning some military strategy can really benefit them. To this end I want to look at one of the most well-known texts of military strategy, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and highlight the lessons that can be applied to RPG combat. Continue reading Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: Attack By Stratagem

This Means War!

There comes a time when, no matter how well developed your characters are, no matter how exciting an adventure is and no matter how great your group of players is, your fantasy set RPG sessions may get a little stale. There are many ways to liven up these sessions, but one that I enjoy is fighting a war. There are plenty of preexisting tabletop games that allow you to command space armies or medieval armies, but what I’m suggesting is taking established PCs and having them command troops on the field of battle or survive the siege of a castle. The introduction of armies will give your players the opportunity to use strategy and be rewarded for it. Plus it can be a refreshing break from slaughtering kobolds and raiding treasure chests. Continue reading This Means War!