Semi-Combats in RPGA (e.g. core-2-3 and adcp-1-2)

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I've found several recent RPGA adventures to contain what I'll call "semi-combats" (for lack of a better term). Examples include CORE-2-3 and the P1 band of ADCP-1-2.

It basically boils down to this: the party is under attack by a handful of creatures (in CORE) or a huge amount of minions (in ADCP), but this is played in skill challenge format. Essentially, there is no battle map, no initiative, and while you're using attack powers, they're limited in that only the to-hit roll and the area of effect matter. Range is ignored, rider effects are ignored, character defenses are ignored (in that the monsters autohit) and the monsters die in one hit but ignore damage from any other sources. It's a bit confusing to explain but anyone who's played such modules will know what I mean.

I'd like to hear people's opinion on these semi-combats. Personally I found them tedious and boring, because it's entirely irrelevant what power you pick as long as it's an area effect, and then you roll a few dice each round until the hoard of minions is finally dead. Thoughts, anyone? Is it worth repeating or a failed experiment?
I haven't played the CORE yet, so I can't comment on it.

I for one liked the semi-combat/skill challenge from ADCP 2-1.  It gave us that fight vs a horde of minions that you can't reasonably do with a normal combat.  I saw it as a combat, just abstracted to a higher degree than normal.  If you tried to play this out on a battlemap, it would grind on and on as the DM has to move a dozen+ monsters, and PCs scrutinize the map looking for the optimum place to move and/or place their burst/blast.
I think that it worked, but only because it is so unusual.  I think that if such semi-fights were to occur in 1 out of every 200 adventures, then it would be fine. 

If several authors played ADCP2-1 and have independently decided that they want to try the same trick, then we could unfortunately be in for a big pile of them all at once, which would be bad I think.
Is it worth repeating or a failed experiment?



Failed experiment in its current form and probably better handled by doing a more traditional skill challenge.

The exception to this is if contested or gradiated success skill challenges are used in LFR. Imagine a battlefield of chess pieces. The object is to protect your "king" not to take the opponents king. The "king" though could be anything, a ritual, a timer, an artifact, etc..., the PC's simply have to hold the line for X rounds. Using various skills the PC's fend off the advances of the horde. However the higher the DC the skill is rolled at the more successful it is.

DC 22 - Bishop is held at bay (2 pawns and  knight break through the line)
DC 27- Bishop and Knight are held at bay (2 pawns break through the line)
DC 32 - Bishop, Knight, and 2 Pawns are held at bay ( nothing breaks through the line)

Other PC's can choose to use skills in the battlefield in general or attack the creature that break through the lines.

The PC's that deal with the creatures that break through the lines then have to stave off remaining attackers or they will damage the "king" and give a failure towards the skill challenge. This can primarily be done with marks, bursts, blasts, multiple attacks, etc...

This allows for a semi-combat role but a skill role as well and parties could divide up very interestingly. Just my take though.

I have yet to see, but would be vaguely interested in, an all minion fight. But my guess is that it would be uninteresting. So as far as turning it into a SC is concerned, I'd be ok with it.

To my knowledge there is but a single minion in all of the MM monsters so far that would even remotely make that interesting.
I am all for more authors trying new things. Some things will be failures, and for sure anything new will only please some tables, but everyone learns from the process. A lot of what I've done that is new in adventures has been with the solid understanding that it might fail now but inspire other better things later.

The idea of bringing combat aspects into skill challenges is cool. I like all that I have seen so far. Run well, they are a cool change from the typical.

Recently, Dungeon has shown some surprising innovation. I usually am surprised at how LFR tends to actually be more forward-thinking than Dungeon (and much more than most of the published adventures). Dungeon recently had a very good skill challenge race adventure that I think all authors that want to experiment should read. A lot of that could work in an LFR adventure. Dungeon also had a zombie attack adventure that was pretty cool (and minion-heavy).

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The fights are a good thing as long as they remain the exception and not the rule. I think they need to be worked on a little with the wide variety of things players can do and if I recall it only allowed for very limited options. It was fun and fast and different. These are all good things but it would loose it's uniqueness if we saw it every 4th event.
I really enjoyed the ADCP1-2 skill challenge fight (and I played CORE 2-3, but don't remember it). I liked that the author did something new with the system, and in a way that worked. It certainly could have used more refinement, but what can't?
My particular table didn't have any AoE at-wills, and no more than 2 AoE encounters (this was P2), and after the first wave of minions we said we would take on reinforcements because we just blew through it. My barbarian killed 3 or 4 mooks in the the first round because of kill triggering, and the rogue killed a couple, and the fighters waded in and took blows. There are two examples I can think of where our DM took this concept, and made it actually work;
1) My previously mentioned barb. Hurricane of Blades took out a few minions, and then he was able to Swift Charged another one. 
2) The fighter with Come and Get It. As a close burst 1 power it was only supposed to kill 2(that's right, right?) minions, but since it pulled enemies within 3 squares to the fighter the DM gave him 2 more targets.

In something new and unusual like that fight, the DM and players must keep in mind how the game is supposed to work, as well as page 42. I thoroughly enjoyed the encounter. 

Co-author on AoA 2-3 and 4-1.

It basically boils down to this: the party is under attack by a handful of creatures (in CORE) or a huge amount of minions (in ADCP), but this is played in skill challenge format. Essentially, there is no battle map, no initiative, and while you're using attack powers, they're limited in that only the to-hit roll and the area of effect matter. Range is ignored, rider effects are ignored, character defenses are ignored (in that the monsters autohit) and the monsters die in one hit but ignore damage from any other sources. It's a bit confusing to explain but anyone who's played such modules will know what I mean.

Never tried it, but sounds neat.  

I remember a time when people would say "wizards are useful for taking out minions".  Seems like this brings that back a little.

EDIT: I just finished playing CORE2-3 last night.  Great mod, and the skill challenge was fun and well written.  I hope to see more such creative skill challenges in the future.
The semi-combat/skill challenge found in ADCP 2-1 worked well for my group when we ran the BI earlier this month. We also had two or three different zero slots to get it right and discussions. Thankfully our coordinator for the BI went out of his way to make DM cheat sheets to clarify majority of issues.

Other than that, some of the DMs used the power of DME to make things more exciting.

EDIT: I just finished playing CORE2-3 last night.  Great mod, and the skill challenge was fun and well written.  I hope to see more such creative skill challenges in the future.



minor spoiler: but then, I think most of this thread is in a way.

My only issue with the opening skill challenge in that mod (assuming the one you are talking about) from a mechanics perspective is that it is WAY too long. (at least from what our judge was telling us)

each scene has about 4 things that MUST be done, and is a 6success/3fail challenge. That means at MOST 8 attempts are made before you've succeeded/failed. So by scene 2, you are done (not even scene2, if you count the interludes). The author should have capped 2 attempts per scene and ditched the interludes if he only wanted it to be a 6/3 challege.
To actually go through all 4 scenes, one should not requiring each of the 4 things per scene to be attempted (unless one increased the SC to 12success/3fail or something; but that'd go over the xp budget I'd imagine).

But overall a decent mod, but the SC needs a lot od DME imo to match what it's suppose to do.
My interpretation of the CORE 2-3 skill challenge is that each scene represents a group challenge, and that you gain one success for the overall challenge if the majority of the group succeeds. Which makes it make more sense. I had the same reaction as you did at first, though.
My interpretation of the CORE 2-3 skill challenge is that each scene represents a group challenge, and that you gain one success for the overall challenge if the majority of the group succeeds. Which makes it make more sense. I had the same reaction as you did at first, though.



Your interpretation is correct. Each scene is a single group check. It's also meant to be fast-paced, so it actually runs more quickly than most skill challenges.

It has run in under 15 minutes all three times I've run it - usually in 10 minutes or so.
Dave Kay LFR Writing Director Retiree dkay807 [at] yahoo [dot] com
how about a fight with   or 7 minions who all have resist:5 (low) or resist:10 (high)

that might make for a fun and challenging encounter. if the right minions were chosen to work together.


Or better yet,  give them  "+1 damage resistance for every (minion name) within 3 sqares of this one."
There was one encounter I ran from something, can't remember specifically, that had a bunch of minions and a leader sort that had a power that gave his followers like 5 temp HP.  It didn't make a huge difference in the encounter, but there were a couple times that the minions didn't drop when the players expected them to.
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